North East leaders call for Government to 'act now' with national lockdown to slow Covid spread

Political leaders in the North East are calling on the Government to ‘act now’ to protect communities with another national lockdown.

Leaders from Sunderland, South Tyneside, Northumberland, Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle and North Tyneside councils – known collectively as the LA7 – released a joint statement on Monday, January 4 ahead of a televised address by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 8pm.

In it, the council leaders, alongside North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll and Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, hail another national lockdown ‘the only sensible course of action’ as the new variant of coronavirus continues to spread across the country.

They said: “Covid-19 is continuing to ramp up the pressure on NHS services nationally and it is abundantly clear that national action is required.

A message from the Beat Covid NE campaigh, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson set to address the nation on Monday, January 4.

“We are all aware of the challenges hospitals are facing as infections continue to rise with more and more people becoming seriously ill and requiring medical attention as a result.

“A national lockdown is now the only sensible course of action.

"Tiered restrictions appear to be failing to slow down transmission and the new, more transmissible variant of the virus continues to spread rapidly through communities up and down the country.”

The statement also urged families across the region to follow public health guidance and stay at home ‘as much as possible’.

Alongside the Tees Valley, the seven local authorities which make up the LA7 group were placed under Tier 4 restrictions on New Year’s Eve.

This was a step up from the ‘very high’ Covid alert level of Tier 3, which the region had been under since the end of the second national lockdown on Wednesday, December 2.

Monday’s fresh statement added: “We cannot allow this virus to completely overwhelm our hospitals, especially when there is so much hope on the horizon with the scaling up of the vaccination programme.

“The Government must act now to protect our communities and prevent more lives being lost to this deadly disease.”

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