County-wide approach to Covid-19 rise is needed, insists interim Northumberland council leader
New Covid-19 restrictions are being introduced in Northumberland to head off a ‘worse case scenario’.
Cllr Glen Sanderson, interim leader of Northumberland County Council, has stressed the measures – which include restrictions on households mixing and hospitality venues closing by 10pm – are about protecting the county and wider region.
He said: “I really want to thank everyone in Northumberland for their fantastic response so far throughout this crisis.
“No-one wants to see our great progress to date derailed, and for residents and businesses to suffer more than they have already over these past, very tough six months, and we are committed to taking preventative action alongside our partners, to head a worse case scenario off at the pass.
“With 84 positive cases confirmed in the county in the last seven days alone, doing nothing is simply not an option - we need to do something now to avoid a local lockdown.
“In Northumberland, although infection rates are generally lower than in some parts of the north east, they have risen significantly in some areas, with increased numbers of outbreaks, leading to more community transmission.
“In our county people also travel frequently between different areas for work and leisure, so this has to be a county-wide approach.
“Around 80% of transmissions are currently happening when households are mixing or people are gathering. We need to drive that level down that and that’s why there’s restrictions on households meeting and venues are shutting earlier."
However, he also insists that Northumberland is still very much ‘open for business’.
"We realise how important it is to keep our economy moving and visitors from outside of the North East are still encouraged to visit Northumberland,” he said.
Our tourism businesses have worked tirelessly and taken every step to ensure they are Covid-secure, and we’re asking anyone visiting the county to comply with the local restrictions in place.”
He also said the council is committed to continuing to work with and support hospitality venues to work through and understand these new restrictions.
He continued: “The vast majority of people were very concerned and very careful during lockdown. Since the restrictions were lifted some have been almost lulled into a false sense of security and think the virus has gone away, or they’re much less at risk of catching it now, but unfortunately, that’s simply not the case, as we are seeing.
“We’ve got to keep schools open, we’ve got to keep getting people to work and we’ve got to keep businesses open – and we want to do our bit as a North East partnership, applying our on-the-ground knowledge and insights, skills and expertise to the situation. We believe these measures are crucial in keeping the region running but we will continually keep them under review.”
The measures were requested earlier this week in response to rising infection rates. The leaders of Northumberland County Council, Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council, Sunderland City Council, Durham County Council, North Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Council – collectively the LA7 group – contacted Government requesting powers to get ahead of the recent surge in cases.