Entire North East placed in 'High' tier of restrictions under new three-tier system

Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate Credit: PA

The Prime Minister has set out his three-tier strategy in a Commons statement, with areas in England labelled as medium, high or very high risk.

The North East has been placed under the middle tier - labelled 'high.' This includes Darlington, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland who were previously following the national guidelines. The new rules will come into force on Wednesday 14th October.

It had been thought likely Newcastle would be included in the top level of restrictions, because the rate of recent cases in the city is among the top five areas in the country.

Cat McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North told us she's disappointed with the way the Government have handled this announcement:

Meanwhile, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen is urging people to stick to the new guidelines, to get infections down as quick as possible:

“Following the announcement that local lockdown restrictions will now cover the whole of the Tees Valley, under the government’s new three-tier system,  it is absolutely essential that everyone across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool follow the rules so that we can get the virus back under control and return to normal as soon as possible.

“Under the new rules local people are banned from meeting anyone they do not live with in their own home or any indoor setting such as pubs or restaurants. So, while it is incredibly difficult I urge everyone to prevent households mixing.

“Up to six people will be able to meet outdoor, including public spaces such as parks, and private gardens.

“To drive down the virus local people are also advised not to travel except for essential reasons, such as getting to work or school.

“By stepping up our fight we can keep as many people as safe as possible from the virus but also make sure our children can keep going to school and businesses which are Covid-secure can remain open.

“If we do not follow these rules our region and our nation will face even stricter restrictions that no one wants to see, restrictions that will have a catastrophic impact on everyone’s livelihoods and physical and mental health.

“It is essential that we do not spend a day longer than necessary under these new restrictions, so we will continue to monitor the data closely and I urge the government to lift the restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Alice Wiseman is the Public Health Director for Gateshead Council.

She's calling for more consistency around the guidelines, so people can better understand what they should do:

England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said there had clearly been a "marked pick-up" in coronavirus cases, which would result in more deaths.

At a briefing to present the latest data, Professor Van-Tam said that although there was more testing now than at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, it was clear there was a resurgence in cases.

Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS England Medical Director, said the country was in a better position than in March and April.

"Clearly we have learnt many things from that first wave, we have learnt better treatments for patients, and Dexamethasone... we learnt that that reduces deaths."

But he warned: "R is above one, that means that infections will continue to rise, and as infections continue to rise, then hospital admissions and impact on health services continue to rise."

Some Nightingale Hospitals, including the ones in Harrogate and Sunderland, have been told to prepare to take patients, due to a rise in cases.