Northumberland residents are facing new measures as part of a combined North East effort to help fight COVID-19.
County Council Interim Leader Councillor Glen Sanderson has stressed the measures are firmly about protecting the county and the wider region but are not a local lockdown.
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.
The new measures, which are legally enforceable, come into effect at 00.01 on Friday, September 18, and include:
- Restrictions on households mixing – this includes gardens
- A number of changes to hospitality venues – including premises closing between 10pm – 5am
- Changes to playing sports
- Mandatory wearing of face coverings in communal areas of schools for pupils in Year 7 and above, staff and visitors
Cllr Sanderson 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 de-railed, 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 countywide 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 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, we’re still open for business. 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.”
The County Council is committed to continuing to work with and support our hospitality venues to work through and understand these new restrictions. It has yet to receive the regulations outlining the advice, guidance and legislation in full, and will further communicate implications for residents and businesses as soon as it can.
Cllr Sanderson 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.”
These additional measures go alongside the national Government guidance and people must continue to follow this advice – including the new Rule of 6 and ‘hand, face, space’.
Article by Northumberland County Council.