Cllr Glen Sanderson, in common with other local authority leaders in the North East, had been arguing strongly in recent weeks that stricter tier three measures were not necessary in the region, even suggesting Northumberland should look to go its own way given its lower infection rates than neighbouring council areas.
However, that has been overtaken by events following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday, October 31, of a four-week national lockdown starting on Thursday, November 5, which will see all non-essential shops, leisure and hospitality businesses close as people are required to stay at home as much as possible.
In a statement released after Boris Johnson’s announcement on Saturday night, Cllr Sanderson said that he ‘knows this second national lockdown will be even harder on all of us’, but that ‘it is imperative that everyone follows the latest Government guidelines to save lives and protect the NHS’.
He also welcomed the extension of the furlough scheme, but said he is seeking further clarification from the Government about other support for businesses, including Northumberland’s key tourism and hospitality sector, as well as the self-employed.
Cllr Sanderson’s statement in full
“Firstly, I want to thank everyone in our county for their sterling efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
“We know that the precautions we have taken so far have been tough on all of us, on our families and on our businesses, and these restrictions have helped, however, cases are still high and the virus continues to rise across the country.
“I know this second national lockdown will be even harder on all of us, and news of this will be both frustrating and disappointing in equal measure, but each and every one of us must work through this together to protect our most vulnerable and do everything we can to avoid putting additional pressure on those who care for us in our local NHS – it is imperative that everyone follows the latest Government guidelines to save lives and protect the NHS.
“The health and wellbeing of our residents is our absolute top priority and we will continue to provide essential council services for our residents. Throughout the pandemic we have continued to support the most vulnerable members of our community, and this vital work will continue alongside supporting our residents with critical day-to-day services.
“Our great county has shown fantastic community spirit throughout this challenging year, and I have no doubt that this will continue with family, friends and neighbours supporting one another where they are safely able to over the coming weeks. And we’ll continue to do our bit to support those who need it most through Northumberland Communities Together.
“I’m pleased to hear that the furlough scheme will be extended throughout November, helping to protect local jobs and our economy, which will be welcome news to many.
“However, I am seeking further clarification from Government as soon as possible around what support is available for those businesses affected, including our tourism and hospitality sector, as well as support for those that are self-employed.
“Of course, we will continue to do all we can to support our health partners and our residents. It’s so important that we all continue to play our part to protect yourself, protect others and protect Northumberland.
“I will bring you more information in due course, particularly details on any of our services which may be impacted by the new restrictions.
“Thank you once again to the people of Northumberland for their continued efforts to protect our community.”