The leaders from the seven North East local authorities, along with the North of Tyne mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria have urged the Government not to impose tier three, 'very high', restrictions on the region.
In a statement released on Thursday evening, signed by all nine public officials, the Government was warned that the introduction of further restrictions on the North East would deliver "devastating" economic consequences - especially without further support.
The group are appealing to the Government to work with them to bring COVID-19 rates down locally and point to the fact that they asked the Government early last month "for restrictions and resources to be put in place due to a worrying rise in the community Covid infection rate. While we welcomed the government’s response, the package of measures we put forward to support this move was not delivered."
We are concerned by the suggestion that a decision could be taken nationally to move our region into Level 3, and we strongly oppose this at the current time. We are seeing evidence of a flattening of the curve and there is a collective view – shared by all the leaders, Chief Executives and critically our superb Directors of Public Health that, with the public’s support we can make Level 2 work.
It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Thursday that "rapid progress" was needed in tightening restrictions further in areas where COVID-19 rates continued to rise.
However, he didn't name which areas he was referring to.
In the statement, the North East local authority leaders say a "stronger package of financial support is required" and that "paying two-thirds of salaries will not be enough to protect the jobs of thousands – it should at least match the 80% that was available under furlough, with the minimum wage as the minimum support."
We are committed to working with the government, but it needs to be a genuine collaboration, based on the data, rather than restrictions imposed upon us. We firmly believe now is not the time to be moving to Alert Level 3, the evidence does not support this, and the economic consequences will be devastating without further support.