This is the Covid support the North East will get after being named Enhanced Response Area
The North East has been named an Enhanced Response area by the Government due to its steep rise in Covid-19 cases.
The decision impacts upon the seven councils known as the LA7 – including Sunderland, South Tyneside, County Durham and Northumberland as well as the five local authorities in the Tees Valley, including Hartlepool.
The Government says the move is based on the latest data and and will provide targeted additional support from Monday to try and slow the growth of COVID-19 variants in the region, whilst also carefully monitoring NHS pressures and the number of cases and deaths.
The support package will be in place for five weeks from Monday and includes the option to deliver extra testing, the provision of logistical support to maximise vaccine and testing uptake, and further help for local public health campaigns.
There will be no additional restrictions imposed, but with cases higher than ever before everyone is asked to continue to act carefully and responsibly.
A statement issued by the LA7 councils said the increased state of alert serves “as a sobering reminder that we all still have a responsibility to make sure we continue to do our bit.”
Among those to sign it include the leaders of councils in Sunderland, South Tyneside, Northumberland and County Durham.
It says: “The last 18 months have tested all of us, and we are grateful to everybody for your immense efforts in helping to protect your friends, families, and others from the virus.
“While restrictions have now eased we must remember that the virus is still with us and cases continue to rise and councils, the NHS and other public services are under pressure.
“We must all continue to be cautious as we take the next step on the roadmap and carry on looking out for one another, not least our frontline workers who we all rely on.
“That is why we are continuing to ask people to help keep the North East open and to protect others.
“Our best defence against the virus is still the vaccines, and the NHS, health partners, local authorities and countless volunteers have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure they are accessible to all.
"Getting a vaccine will mean you are less likely to become ill, and have less chance of spreading the virus to others who may be more vulnerable than you are.
"The vast majority of cases are in those yet to be vaccinated and those who get Covid who have been double-jabbed are generally showing mild, if any symptoms.”
The LA7 leaders say while the lifting of requirements means no longer have to wear face coverings, they are pleased to see the majority of people still using them.
It adds: “As we to learn to live with the virus, we must do so as safely as possible.
"If we throw caution to the wind now, NHS services may face another surge in pressures, already-stretched council services will be further pushed to the limit, and the virus will be able to do more damage to our communities which have already suffered so much.
“Together we have achieved so much during the pandemic and we thank you for your continued support.
"Let’s carry on being careful to make sure these collective efforts are not wasted in the weeks and months to come.”
*Wear a face covering indoors, particularly in crowded areas and on public transport to protect others, including frontline workers
*Wash hands often and meet outdoors when you can or let fresh air in if you are inside
*Test regularly using Lateral Flow Tests when you don’t have symptoms and isolate immediately and get a PCR test if your home test is positive or if you have any symptoms, no matter how mild
*Get vaccinated as soon as you can and remember to get both doses