'We've come too far to fall now': North East leaders issue fresh Covid-19 appeal

The LA7 group of authorities want people to continue following Covid-19 rules Credit: ITV

A group of seven North East council leaders has urged people in the region to keep to Covid-19 rules and not see the region "fall at the final hurdle".

The authorities - County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland, known collectively as the LA7 - have praised the efforts of the population so far, particularly the high take-up of the vaccination.

In a joint statement though the leaders have pointed out the there are a growing number of cases of the Delta variant (formerly referred to as the Indian variant) across the North East.

This call comes ahead of the government's decision on the further relaxation of Covid restrictions on June 21, the so-called 'freedom day'.

The leaders said:

They pointed out that these freedoms have come about because of the efforts of those who live and work in the North East.

They have pointed out that there are 149 cases of the Delta variant in the North East's 12 local authority areas, which is an increase of 68 from last week.

The leaders have said that while there is surge testing and vaccinations in the region "it is vital we all continue to follow the rules to try and prevent what are currently small, controlled outbreaks from taking hold".

They suggested that anyone with concerns visit the website beatcovidne.co.uk

The leaders were also keen to promote testing to identify anyone with or without symptoms in danger of spreading the virus.

Restrictions may not be relaxed on June 21 and the leaders have said if that is the case it would be better to pause "than rush ahead and risk a further damaging exponential rise in the virus, a further lockdown and the terrible impact that will have on people’s health, wellbeing and the economy".

The statement was signed by the leaders of all seven local authorities, as well as North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll and Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.