New restrictions to halt a rise in coronavirus cases have come into force in north-east England, affecting almost two million people.
The temporary measures, which started at midnight, are to tackle “concerning rates of infection” in the region.
The rules affect Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and the County Durham council area.
Pubs and restaurants must shut early and household-mixing has been limited.
Responding to the rise in infections, Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said: “The evidence we’ve found from local testing is that it’s spreading in three main areas – in pubs, in people’s homes and in grassroots sports.”
Meanwhile, the BBC understands new local lockdown restrictions are to be introduced in most of Lancashire, with the exception of Blackpool.
An announcement on measures in parts of north-west England is expected from the government later on Friday.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson told the Liverpool Echo “we fully expect” additional restrictions as infection rates in the city have risen above 100 per 100,000 of population.
The new measures for north-east England include:
- Meeting people outside your household or support bubble in private homes and gardens is banned (exemptions include attending a birth, visiting someone who is dying, work, education, registered childcare, emergencies or care issues, moving house and child contact arrangements)
- People are advised not to socialise outside their household in public venues
- Residents should only use public transport for essential purposes, such as going to school or work
- Pubs, restaurants, cafes must be table service only and all leisure venues must shut at 22:00
- Holidays are permitted but only with members of your household or support bubble
- Travel outside the area is permitted but visiting another home or garden is not
- People should not spectate at any grassroots sport or play sport in the restricted areas
- Schools, colleges and universities remain open
- Care homes are closed to non-essential visitors except in end-of-life circumstances
- There are no local changes to funerals, weddings or religious ceremonies
Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The data says that we must act now.”
He said Sunderland currently had an infection rate of 103 cases per 100,000 people. In South Tyneside and Gateshead the latest published rates were 93.4 and 83.6 respectively.
Concern has been raised about increased waiting times for coronavirus test results for people using community testing centres.
In Sunderland, drivers queued outside a Covid test centre, only to later find out it was empty.
There remains confusion over some of the measures.
Discussions between the council and the government were still continuing over whether to exclude grandparents helping with childcare from the restrictions.
Mr Forbes tweeted that Newcastle City Council had “specifically” asked for this to be allowed and was “hoping” for government confirmation.
Council leaders have also requested additional funding for policing, as well as extra testing facilities.
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth echoed the need for more testing capacity to be available in areas where there were tightened restrictions.
He said it was urgent the government “fixes testing, fixes tracing” or we face a “very bleak winter indeed”.
County Durham’s director of public health Amanda Healy said: “If we do want to be able to continue to go to work, to schools, to keep in contact with relatives but stop an increase in the cases we have seen, we are really urging people to adhere to the guidance coming out today.”
Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said: “Nobody welcomes these things but I would think the vast majority of people recognise these are extremely difficult times and we all need to act and pull together.”
Small businesses broadly welcomed the lockdown but called for more support to adapt to the new measures.
Simon Hanson, North East development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said it was “absolutely critical” that small and micro businesses were given grant support quickly to help them adapt and provide cashflow.
It is estimated than 10 million people in the UK currently face additional coronavirus restrictions, with local lockdowns covering parts of Scotland, south Wales, the north west and north east of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands.
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