UK tightens curbs on north-east England as cases surge at ‘concerning level’


Shoppers, some wearing a face covering, walk in Newcastle city centre, north-east England, on September 17, 2020. (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Shoppers, some wearing a face covering, walk in Newcastle city centre, north-east England, on September 17, 2020. (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

By S Neeraj Krishna



THE UK has imposed tighter curbs on parts of north-east England as Covid-19 cases have been rising at a “concerning level”.

About two million residents in the region have been told not to socialise with people outside of their own households or support bubble from Friday (18).

The “areas of national intervention” are Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham, the health department said.



Business outlets will have to follow late-night restrictions on operating hours, with leisure and entertainment venues required to close between 10pm to 5am. The hospitality sector has also been told to restrict food and drinks to table service.

The new rules were announced as the infection rate in North East rose to “the second highest in the country, after the North West”.

A day ago, Boris Johnson had warned that the “only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas is to be tough now”.



“We can grip it now, stop the surge, arrest the spike, stop the second hump of the dromedary, flatten the second hump,” the prime minister told The Sun.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government did not take “these decisions lightly”, and asked residents to “work together and break the chains of transmission”.

“After seeing cases in the North East rise to a concerning level, local authorities requested support for tighter restrictions and we have taken swift action to accept their recommendations,” he said.



“I urge those from affected areas: please, get a test if you are symptomatic, stay at home if you are required to self-isolate, and think: hands, face, space. This is the only way for us to return to a more normal way of life and avoid further restrictions.”

Besides the lockdown rules, the health department guidance advised residents to avoid socialising “with people outside of their own households in all public venues”.

They were told to use public transport only for essential purposes, “such as travelling to school or work”, and take holiday breaks only within “own household or support bubble”.

People should also avoid thronging sports events, the guidance added.

The new curbs will run along with the national “rule of six” norms on social gatherings, and will be under constant review based on data on prevalence of the virus.