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Coronavirus: Restrictions expected in North East of England

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

Angel of the North sculpture in Gateshead

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Almost two million people in north-east England are expected to face local restrictions as coronavirus cases rise.

Areas including Newcastle, Sunderland and County Durham are due to be subject to new measures.

These are expected to include restrictions on households mixing and pubs being ordered to close earlier.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said it was hoped the temporary measures would prevent a “full lockdown”.

BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt

said MPs from the area had met Health Minister Nadine Dorries earlier.

He said a Labour MP had told him measures would include pubs closing at 22:00, “no mixing with other households” and public transport reserved for “essential travel” only.

A full announcement detailing the measures is expected on Thursday.

On Monday councils in seven areas – Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland – called for new restrictions.

Council leader Mr Forbes said in a series of tweets the area was not headed for “lockdown” and the measures were “about re-introducing social distancing where the evidence says it is slipping”.

Penshaw Monument

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The North East has seen a resurgence of coronavirus in recent weeks and four boroughs were last week placed on the government’s watchlist for areas needing “enhanced support”.

BBC analysis of the government’s figures shows that as of Wednesday, Bolton had the highest rate in England at 204.1 per 100,000 people in the week to 13 September.

Sunderland’s rate was 82.1 per 100,000 people, South Tyneside was 93.4, Gateshead was 81.7, Newcastle was 64.1, North Tyneside was 46.7, with County Durham at 37.4 and Northumberland at 25.7.

In total there were 1,106 new cases in a seven-day period.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We constantly monitor infection rates across the country and keep all measures under review in consultation with local leaders.

“Any changes to local restrictions will be announced in the usual way.”

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Set of bar charts showing Coronavirus cases in the north-east of England

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Analysis – Daniel Wainwright, BBC England Data Unit

While parts of the north west of England have consistently had the highest rates of new infections for some time now, areas of the North East have also been reporting big increases.

In the week to 30 August Sunderland had 24 cases. Two weeks later it was 228.

The rise in South Tyneside was also very large, up from 70 cases in the last week of August to 141 in the week to 13 September.

Parts of the region are recording rates they haven’t seen since May, when the country was still subject to most of the full lockdown measures.

Of course, testing capacity has increased and that means more cases can now be found in the community than earlier in the pandemic.

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Date: 16 September 2020
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