Organisations and politicians have been reacting to the Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons today where he outlined how lock down restrictions will be eased.
The North East England Chamber of Commerce has urged the Government to put businesses at the heart of plans to move back to normality.
Shortly after Boris Johnson's speech the group issued a statement.
There is now an urgent need for a corresponding road map specifically for businesses. They must have detail on how they will be supported to come out of lock down measures. I understand it is important for people’s well-being to be able to meet up socially in the coming weeks but I would argue it is also extremely important that our economy is supported to get back on track.
He also urged the Government to provide more direct briefings "rather than employers planning their futures from leaked information in newspapers" and to make sure there was an effective testing system in place.
Many of his comments were echoed by the CBI North East
Sarah Glendinning, its director, said:
With good news coming every day on the vaccines, the roadmap offers a pragmatic and safe route out of lockdown in England. North East businesses will play their full part in doing so with public health in mind and the confidence to kickstart a recovery.
The LA7 group of councils - County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland - also commented on the announcement in a joint statement.
The government’s announcement of a cautious approach to easing lockdown is sensible but it needs to be kept under constant review. We understand the desire of businesses and our residents to see restrictions lifted so we can get back to something like normality.
It pointed out that infection rates are coming down but that they are still high and people continue to suffer and die from Covid-19.
The group welcomed the return to education and also called for support for businesses which cannot reopen yet. It also called for more guidance on how local outbreaks will be controlled.
We have lived with restrictions for almost a year now – there are still a tough few weeks ahead – but thanks to the incredible efforts of our NHS, key workers, volunteers and the North East public we are as close as we have been since this pandemic began to finding a way through it.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen also issued a statement praising the Prime Minister's approach.
“The last 11-months have been incredibly difficult for local people, businesses and communities, but now there is light at the end of the tunnel. With the route out of lockdown now clear, we can start on the road to recovery. It is right to be cautions, but we cannot go backwards, we cannot go back into lockdown, schools cannot be closed again, our economy cannot be shuttered again.
“Teesside has had its fair share of knocks and this pandemic has been one of the heaviest we have received, but we always come back stronger because our comeback is always bigger than the setback.
The region's MPs have also commented.
Andy McDonald, the Labour member for Middlesbrough, said:
Today's announcement will undoubtedly bring cautious optimism to people in Middlesbrough and across the country. Being able to see loved ones and friends, albeit outdoors, from next month will be of huge comfort to many, many people who have missed family and friends over these past difficult months.
His Labour colleague Rachael Maskell, the MP for York Central, tweeted her response.
Conservative Simon Clarke, who represents Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said:
While we all yearn for the return to normality, and I know there will be those who feel restrictions should be lifted sooner, it is vital that we make this lockdown the last. Let's see out these final months, get it right and ensure we do not see a return of restrictions once they have been lifted. We should look forward to the summer with optimism, even if that optimism is cautious.
Jacob Young, MP for nearby Redcar, added:
There is still a way to go and, for now, we need to stick rigorously to the rules. But provided we each do our best to keep each other safe so that the vaccines can do their work, we will begin to see restrictions lifted and in the fullness of time, we will return to the way of life we love.