Coronavirus: North East councils 'want more restrictions'

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The North East has seen a sharp rise in virus cases in recent weeks

Councils in north-east England want to impose new restrictions to combat a spike in coronavirus cases.

Political leaders across the region are writing to the government to call for further constraints to be put in place.

They are thought to include changes to the opening hours and operations of pubs, bars and restaurants.

Residents could also be told not to meet up with people from other households - a stricter position than the government's new "rule of six".

The restrictions would cover Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Sunderland, County Durham, and Northumberland, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The North East has seen a resurgence of coronavirus in recent weeks and four boroughs were last week placed on the government's watchlist for areas needing "enhanced support".

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said: "Unless we get on with this now, we are facing a bigger problem down the line which could end up in a full lockdown.

"It is better to try to introduce measures which will prevent that, even though that may mean some additional restrictions over the next few weeks.

"We are working with the government on a plan for what those could mean and how we can get those measures in place over the next few weeks to protect our communities and having to go into another prolonged, damaging lockdown."

Mr Forbes added it "beggars belief" house parties were reportedly held in the region over the weekend given the spike in cases.

He also said limiting pubs and restaurants to table service only would help "ensure social distancing for longer, especially when people have had a few drinks".

Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, said the seven local authorities were working "extremely closely" to co-ordinate their Covid-19 response and to avoid giving people "mixed messages".

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