Boris Johnson wants North East to agree to tougher lockdown rules including pub closures

The Government wants the North East to agree to tougher local lockdown restrictions, Downing Street has confirmed.

It would mean pubs and bars closing, and a ban on meeting people from other households in gardens would be re-imposed.

People would also be asked to avoid travelling out of or into the region, although this would not be enforced in law.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said talks about introducing “the most severe types of local action” were continuing.

And he said that while Mr Johnson hoped to reach agreement with local council leaders and mayors, “the Government does have the ability to impose measures if it’s considered that that’s what’s needed.”

It would mean yet another change to the lockdown rules in the North East, after a new system was announced this week.

The North East was placed in the middle tier of the Government’s new three-tier local lockdown system, known as the “high” category, on Monday. The decision was announced after local council leaders convinced the Government not to place it in the top tier.

Liverpool City Region is so far the only area to be placed in the top tier, known as the “very high” category.

But Downing Street today confirmed that Boris Johnson and his Government colleagues still want the North East to move into the highest tier.

In a televised press conference on Monday evening, the Prime Minister said talks were continuing with local leaders in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber about the support available if they moved into the third tier.

He said: “I know how difficult this is – they like us, like everyone in this House, are grappling with very real dilemmas.

“But we cannot let the NHS fall over when lives are at stake.”

And speaking to journalists this morning, Mr Johnson’s spokesman made it clear this meant the Government wants areas to step up a tier.

He said: “We have agreed with the Liverpool City Region a package of measures and support … we continue to work with local leaders in the North to agree additional interventions in what could become level three areas, in order to prevent the transmission of the virus.”

The spokesman added: “We want to work with local leaders on the additional measures that should be taken and that’s ongoing.”

Asked which areas the Government wanted to move up a tier, the spokesman highlighted Mr Johnson’s reference to “the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber”.

The spokesman said: “What the Prime Minister wants is a constructive approach and to build the maximum possible local consensus behind what would be the most severe types of local action, so that is what he is focused upon.

“You heard him say that he was pleased that we had been able to reach agreement with the Liverpool City Region and we will continue to engage with other local leaders.

“You have seen very clearly from the published figures on hospital admissions and also admissions to ICU units that we do need to ensure that we have the right level of action in place to ensure we are protecting the NHS’s ability to carry out important local services such as cancer care as well as treat people who do become ill with Covid.”

Asked if local leaders had a veto on moving up to tier three, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “The approach we want to take is one based on consensus and that is why we have been speaking with local leaders and seeking to work together to agree on packages of measures and support that they could put in place.

“As you’d expect, and as has been the case through the pandemic, the government does have the ability to impose measures if it’s considered that that’s what’s needed to reduce transmission, to safeguard the NHS and to save lives.”

He said telephone convsersations between the Government and council leaders and mayors “have been taking place over the course of the weekend and yesterday, and I would expect there to be further engagement today.”

The entire North East region is currently classed as “high”. This includes Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham and Northumberland.

It also includes the Teesside authorities of Middlesborough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington and Hartlepool.

North East lockdown restrictions

How the restrictions in the North East could change

LocalCovidAlert Level – High

The North East is currently classed as a “high” area.. This means the following measures are in place:

  • People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • People must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other space.
  • People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.

LocalCovidAlert Level – Very High

The Government wants the North East to move into the “very high” category.

It would mean the following measures would be in place, as a minimum.

On top of the measures below, local councils would be asked to impose any additional restrictions they think are needed.

  • Pubs and bars must close, and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.
  • Wedding receptions are not allowed
  • People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space. The Rule of Six applies in open public spaces like parks and beaches.
  • People should try to avoid travelling outside the ‘Very High’ area they are in, or entering a ‘Very High’ area, other than for things like work, education, accessing youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if they are in transit.
  • People should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if they are resident in a ‘Very High’ area, or avoid staying overnight in a ‘Very High’ area if they are resident elsewhere.

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