Tier 3 reprieve for North East: Chief says region 'staring down barrel of a gun' and 'battle is on to prove we can do it' and save jobs

A North East chief has thanked residents for doing their bit to win a week’s reprieve on moving from Tier 2 into the tougher Tier 3 restrictions – but warned communities are ‘staring down the barrel of a gun’.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 2:41 pm
Updated Friday, 16th October 2020, 2:51 pm
A coronavirus testing site in the North East

The leaders of Sunderland, South and North Tyneside, Northumberland, County Durham, Newcastle and Gateshead councils – the so-called LA7 – signed a joint statement urging the Government to not impose “devastating” coronavirus restrictions.

Tier 3 would mean some businesses being forced to close in the North East, including pubs and bars, with only venues offering food allowed to stay open.

In the letter, the leaders said there’s “evidence of a flattening of the curve” and “there is a collective view –we can make alert level 2 work.”

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“The data shows a significant slow down over the past week. Government concede we need a little more time to prove that trend,” said Gateshead council leader Martin Gannon said.

“We now need to ask everyone to help us, thank you to those that have won us this reprieve.

“We are staring down the barrel of a gun, it is a battle to prove we can do it, to save the economy and jobs.”

In the letter leaders have urged the Government to give the current restrictions more time and warned that the economic consequences will be “devastating without further support”.

The authorities also said that there needs to be more financial support for those areas in both Tier 2 and 3.

They warned paying two-thirds of salaries “will not be enough to protect the jobs of thousands” and payments to employees of businesses forced to close should at least match the 80% of the original furlough scheme.

“Due to the combined efforts of our residents, businesses and communities since we introduced restrictions across the region on September 18, the public health data is showing signs of the number of Covid-19 cases stabilising,” it read.

“We would like to thank every person in the region for the role they are playing in tackling this virus but, if we are to avoid further restrictions, then it is vital every single one of us follows the law and guidance. There is absolutely no room for complacency.

“We are at a critical point and cannot afford to let the virus rip through our communities – we need everyone to do their bit.

“We continue to engage with government about the need for crucial economic support as well as localised control of Test and Trace, but we welcome the fact we are being listened to and we are committed to ongoing, constructive dialogue.”

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