The PM thanked people in the county ‘for the incredible efforts they’ve made to get the virus under control and keep the infection rate down’.
Noting that the North East’s rates were coming down, unlike other areas in the country, and describing it as ‘fantastic’, he said: “In the days up to December 16, we will be looking very carefully at the epidemiology, trying to work out in as fine detail as we can, what our chances are of taking areas down a tier if that’s sensible. We’ll only do it if we think it’s justified by the science.
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“I know that will be frustrating, particular for areas where they’ve got it coming down but they’re near areas where it’s not coming down so fast, and who feel they are being unfairly dragged into a higher tier. I do really appreciate that sense of frustration and unfairness.
“We’ll do our best to sort it out, but what we can’t have is another big spike in the coming weeks. Everyone instinctively understands where we’ve got to in the fight, we all know the salvation, the cavalry is over the hill and the vaccines are already being rolled out, but it will take time.
“We’ll do our best on the 16th, we’ll be as fair as we possibly can, but we can’t afford to let the virus get out of control.”
Mr Johnson was also asked about the vaccine currently only being delivered from two hospitals in the North East – the RVI in Newcastle and James Cook in Middlesbrough.
He explained that ‘we have had to go slowly because it’s a new vaccine and it has to be kept at-70, but we are going to be getting it to millions of people in the next weeks and months’. He added: “We hope to get it into virtually every hospital, but we’re having to expand it as fast as we can.”