Health Secretary confirms there are 'no imminent plans' to move North East into tier 3 lockdown

The Health Secretary has confirmed that the government has 'no imminent' plans to move the North East into a tier 3 lockdown, the highest level of restrictions.

Matt Hancock was questioned by Blaydon MP Liz Twist when giving a Covid update in the House of Commons this evening.

The MP was calling on the government to keep the region in tier 2, while appealing for financial support for local test and trace schemes and the hospitality industry.

While Matt Hancock steered clear of the question of financial support, he did offer reassurances regarding further restrictions.

He said: ''It is important that we take the action if it is necessary, but there are early signs that the number of cases in the North East is starting to flatten.

''In the first instance, that is happening among younger people and I am still worried about the number of cases for over 60s who of course are the people who are most likely to end up in hospital or worse.

''So we will keep a very close eye on the situation but we have no imminent plans to make a change and were the clinical advice to change that we needed to move urgently, then of course we would seek to do that with the support of the local area.''

It is important to note that the government has previously referred to the North East as Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham, so this latest message offers no reassurance for the Tees Valley area.

In fact, prior to Matt Hancock's comments to Liz Twist, the MP for Redcar, Jacob Young asked for similar assurances for his area.

The Health Secretary didn't comment specifically on the local alert level in Redcar, but said the government will take the action that's needed: ''We followed the data and we will continue to follow the data and take the action that's needed, but only the action that's needed and engage absolutely with the Mayor of the Tees Valley who is rising above party politics to do the right thing.''