National lockdown demanded by North East leaders as region placed under strict Tier 4 Covid rules

Political leaders across the North East have called on the Government to consider another national lockdown as the region was placed under Tier 4 restrictions in the latest review of Covid rules.

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 3:43 pm

Members of the LA7 – which is made up of councils in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland – issued a joint statement in the aftermath of an announcement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Wednesday, December 30.

Three quarters of the country will be in Tier 3 or Tier 4 by Thursday morning, Mr Hancock added.

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The LA7 statement, released moments after Mr Hancock’s speech in the House of Commons, called for a ‘national solution’ to a ‘national problem’.

It said: “As our Directors of Public Health stated last week, the new variant of the deadly virus is being transmitted almost 70% faster than other strains and vulnerable communities, NHS services and social care facilities have been quickly consumed by it in the south of the country so it is vital we act now to avoid our local services being overwhelmed.

"Our view is that the Government should consider a national lockdown now to ensure the spread of the new variant is slowed and efforts can be focussed on the crucial roll out of the vaccine. This is a national problem and a national solution is required now.

“After a disrupted Christmas the last thing any of us wanted was further restrictions as we enter 2021 but sadly we feel this is the only sensible option to protect our health and care services and the most vulnerable in our communities.”

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

It also called on residents across the region to continue following restrictions to slow the spread of the virus and ‘put in extra effort’ to keep loved ones safe.

"We understand this may be disappointing for our residents and businesses who have worked so hard with us to try and slow the spread of the virus, but we ask again for everyone’s support so that these Tier 4 restrictions have the impact they need to,” the statement said.

“We thank everyone who has been doing their bit for so long, and we know everyone desperately wishes we could see an end to the restrictions.

"We understand people are tired and frustrated but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it has been uplifting to see vaccinations being delivered across the region every day which can give us hope for 2021.”

It was also confirmed on Wednesday that the Oxford University and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

More than 500,000 doses are expected to be available for roll-out from Monday, January 4.

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