Northumberland health chief slams talk of further North East restrictions amid suggestions pubs and restaurants could be told to close

Northumberland’s director of public health has said she does not want any more Covid-19 restrictions imposed in the county.

By Ben O'Connell
Thursday, 8th October 2020, 11:49 am

The introduction of a tiered system and additional Covid-19 restrictions in ‘the north’ have both been reported nationally in recent days, although there have been no announcements yet by the Government.

Reports include suggestions pubs and restaurants could be forced to close.

Liz Morgan said she had received no official word, adding: “I’m hoping we will be in whichever tier does not impose additional restrictions.”

Northumberland's director of public health has said she does not want to see further restrictions, and has complained existing policies are confusing.

Ms Morgan was speaking at the Thursday, October 8, meeting of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board,

Earlier in the meeting, she said: “I think the changing restrictions have been confusing for the public and, to be honest, we are still working through the ramifications of the restrictions and what people can and can’t do. The whole situation is very complex.”

In response to a question later on, she also suggested that given the ‘different sets of regulations’, there may have been ‘unintended consequences due to the speed at which the legislation has been written’.

Ms Morgan also noted that the original call by the seven local authorities in the North East for further restrictions included a request for funding to support the affected areas.

“Some of that funding is starting to filter through, some of it we are still pursuing vigorously through every possible route,” she added.

On the overall picture, Ms Morgan said: “I continue to be concerned about the number of cases, we are seeing roughly 80 a day over the last week, and we are still in the top 20% of local authorities for case rates, although I can say that other areas are increasing at a greater rate.”

There are 50 people in hospital in Northumberland with Covid-19, 20 more than on Sunday, including half-a-dozen in intensive care, she reported, which ‘reflects the transmission in the community’.

She also revealed that a request for new local testing centres in Berwick and Hexham is currently being assessed by the Department for Health and Social Care, and they should be up and running in the next three or four weeks, providing ‘more consistent access to testing’.

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