'All options on the table' as North East leaders discuss potential move to Tier 3 covid restrictions

A North East council chief has said ‘all options are on the table’ as leaders prepare to discuss a potential move to Tier 3 lockdown measures – and are “very concerned” about the region’s latest Covid-19 numbers.

By Daniel Holland
Thursday, 29th October 2020, 1:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th October 2020, 1:12 pm
A Covid-19 testing centre, as leaders prepare to discuss a potential move to Tier 3 restrictions in the North East
A Covid-19 testing centre, as leaders prepare to discuss a potential move to Tier 3 restrictions in the North East

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said it was important to “keep all options on the table”, with political figures from across the region set for discussions on Thursday afternoon.

However, the government is not involved in the discussions and a proposed meeting with local government secretary Robert Jenrick which was expected to be held last Monday is still yet to be arranged.

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In a statement on Monday afternoon, top political figures from across the North East said that Covid-19 rates were continuing to level off and claimed the Government accepted that existing restrictions have had success in curtailing the spread of the virus.

However, there is concern that infection rates are not dropping quickly enough and have actually risen again in some areas according to latest figures.

Sources have indicated that the Tees Valley areas are closer to being placed in Tier 3 restrictions, though the rest of the North East could also be at risk over the next week.

Ahead of Thursday afternoon’s meeting, Coun Forbes said: “We are looking at the numbers of cases on a daily basis and continue to be very concerned about the numbers not reducing as fast as we would like.

“It is therefore important to keep all options on the table and, at this crucial stage of battling the virus, we cannot afford any complacency.”

A move to Tier 3 would mean that pubs and bars will have to close down unless they are serving “substantial meals”, while also preventing residents making overnight stays in other parts of the UK or meeting up with people from other households in private gardens.

That comes on top of current Tier 2 restrictions banning households from mixing in any indoor setting.

Latest figures for the region show a significant rise in case numbers in Gateshead and North Tyneside, and a small rise in Sunderland.

Here are the latest Covid infection rate numbers for the seven days to October 24:

:: Gateshead – 352.9 new cases per 100,000 people (compared to 248.0 in the seven days to October 17)

:: Sunderland – 331.3 (326.6)

:: Newcastle upon Tyne 310.1 (317.7)

:: County Durham 288.1 (346.7)

:: North Tyneside 285.2 (204.9)

:: South Tyneside 227.2 (235.1)

:: Northumberland 175.2 (175.5)