Coronavirus: Pubs and bars curfew and household mixing banned in North East England restrictions

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

Coronavirus restrictions are being tightened in the North East of England from midnight on Thursday as much of the region reports significant rises in cases of Covid-19.

The restrictions, which include a 10pm curfew on businesses including pubs and restaurants, will be enforced in Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland.

People living in these areas have been told they cannot socialise with anyone outside their household or social bubble.

Hospitality businesses will be restricted to table service only, while all leisure and entertainment businesses have been told they must close from 10pm to 5am.

Matt Hancock, announcing the rules in the House of Commons, said the restrictions were being put in place amid "concerning rates of infection in parts of the North East".

"With winter on the horizon we must prepare, bolster our defences and come together once again against this common foe," Mr Hancock told MPs, adding: "The battle against coronavirus is not over."

Matt Hancock announces new restrictions in the North East:

"Like many other countries around the world, we're continuing to see a concerning rise in cases with 3,991 new cases recorded yesterday.

"And this week the number of patients in mechanical ventilator beds has risen above 100 for the first time since July. "

The health secretary told the Commons that the people of the North East will "come together" to beat the virus.

The changes are being made after North East leaders asked the government to implement "stricter Covid-19 prevention measures".

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Mr Hancock said ministers "agree" with local councils that coronavirus case data says "we must act now so that we can control the virus and keep people safe".

He revealed case rates in Sunderland are 103 per 100,000 population, and South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, figures are all above 70.

Restrictions are also being tightened in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, from 6pm Thursday evening.

Indoor meetings there are banned, as is leaving or entering the area for non-essential travel and a 11pm curfew has been imposed on businesses following a "rapid" increase in virus cases.

The government has insisted measures around the country do not amount to a national lockdown, however large swathes of the UK are now under increased restrictions.

There are tightened restrictions affecting millions of people also in place in much of the North West, Birmingham and parts of Scotland.

Mr Hancock also used his Commons address to provide further details on his plan to protect the social care sector and the NHS from a winter wave of coronavirus.

He said £2.7 billion for the NHS will "help the NHS with the vital task of operating safely in a world in which Covid is still at large".

The health secretary also said he planned to make care homes a "place of sanctuary this winter" with a cash injection of £540 million.

Watch Matt Hancock's announcement live