New local restrictions are being introduced throughout northeast England, which includes curfews for pubs and a ban on people mixing with others outside their household
Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, is set to confirm the new restrictions in a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday morning, following the government’s talks with councils in the North East, as well as local Members of Parliament.
Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle City Council, has said that his city council had asked the government for “additional temporary restrictions” after he has become “very concerned about the exponential rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the North East”.
“Our evidence from contact tracing tells us it’s happening broadly in three main areas; in bars and pubs, in people’s homes, and in grassroots sports,”
“So what we’ve done is try to get ahead of the curve and ask government for some additional temporary restrictions so that we can get on top of the virus in all of those areas.”
This comes after local lockdown measures are being imposed in the Welsh county of Rhondda Cynon Taf following a rise in cases of COVID-19 in the region. A cluster of cases in the Welsh county has been traced back to a rugby club’s trip to horse races, which “stopped off at a series of pubs on the way”
Nick Forbes revealed that the new restrictions would apply to:
- table service when in bars and pubs
- all pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes will be required to close at 10pm
- delivery service only for takeaways after the 10pm curfew
- restrictions on households meeting up with people from other households outside of social bubbles
- restrictions on some major entertainment events
Explaining the reason for a 10pm curfew for bars, pubs and restaurants, Mr Forbes said: “One of the challenges has been groups of people meeting up in our towns and city centres very late at night and after a few drinks that means social distancing goes out the window.
“So we want to ensure that isn’t another opportunity for the virus to keep spreading.”
This comes after on the suggestion of a two-week national lockdown, Edward Argar, a minister within the Department of Health and Social Care, has rubbished claims that the Prime Minister is being advised to take the action due to a rise in COVID-19 infections.
Mr Forbes has also added that Newcastle City Council had asked the government for an exemption for informal arrangements of childcare with extended family members.
“I appreciate these are not easy measures and people have worked so hard to get businesses up and running again after the national lockdown – there might be some fear about the impact of these,” he said.
“But we are working with businesses and we want to ensure that all of our businesses who worked very hard to ensure they’re COVID-secure and COVID-safe continue to operate through this with some additional measures just to curb the spread of the virus where we know the spread is happening most prevalent.”
It has been reported that the new lockdown rules being implemented across the North East will apply in Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland.