North East council bosses vow to oppose plans to close pubs and restaurants in further coronavirus crackdown

North East council bosses say they will oppose any Government plans for further possible coronavirus restrictions in the region, including closing bars and restaurants.

Friday, 9th October 2020, 1:53 pm

Stricter local lockdown restrictions came into force in parts of the North East on Friday, September 18, in response to a rise in coronavirus cases.

But rates have continued to rise, prompting fears that further measures may be imposed.

Sunderland had a weekly case rate of 75 per 100,000 people when the new rules were introduced last month.

North East council bosses say they will oppose any plan to close pubs and restaurants in the region

Four weeks on, and the city has 291.3 cases per 100,000 people, with 809 people testing positive for the illness over the seven days to Monday, October 5.

The local lockdown rules initially covered Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Collectively, the authorities are known as LA7.

The scope of the additional local restrictions was extended to also cover Hartlepool and Middlesbrough from Saturday, October 3.

Now council leaders in the LA7 group say they have agreed to oppose any further imposition of coronavirus restrictions in the region.

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Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon confirmed that council bosses were due to have a meeting with a senior Whitehall official on this afternoon – Friday, October 9 – but it had been delayed.

Mr Gannon said all seven council leaders had “agreed a line”. He told the PA news agency: “We do not want further restrictions.

“Despite three sets of regulations in 10 days and the ensuing mixed messaging, there is evidence that, excluding higher education students (which is a national problem), new cases are beginning to plateau.

“We need more time, clearer messaging and greater support from Government.”

He added: “Our message to Government is give us more time. Further changes could further undermine public confidence which needs to be built not undermined.”

Asked if that meant they opposed plans to shutter pubs and restaurants in the North, Mr Gannon continued “Further restrictions will have an enormous impact on our economy and the 50-60,000 workers employed in hospitality.

“We believe the current measures can work without further damage by closing hospitality.

“If Government ignore us we will call for a substantial financial package to sustain the businesses and workers.”

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