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Covid: North East wins 'reprieve' from Tier 3

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image captionNewcastle, Sunderland, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Northumberland and the County Durham and Tees Valley leaders signed a joint letter to the government

The North East has won a reprieve on whether it needs to go in to Tier 3 lockdown.

On Thursday council leaders signed a joint letter calling for the government to delay further "devastating" coronavirus restrictions.

It said there was "evidence of a flattening of the curve" and new restrictions were working.

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon has now confirmed the government has agreed to wait a week.

Leaders in Northumberland, Newcastle, South and North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, County Durham, Tees Valley, Hartlepool and Darlington said they were confident tougher restrictions imposed in September would bring infection rates down.

'Barrel of a gun'

As reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Gannon said the data showed there had been "a significant slowdown" over the past week and ministers conceded the areas needed more time "to prove that trend".

"We now need to ask everyone to help us," he said.

"We are staring down the barrel of a gun, it is a battle to prove we can do it, to save the economy and jobs."

In the letter leaders urged the government to give the current restrictions more time and warned that the economic consequences will be "devastating without further support".

The authorities also said there needed to be more financial support for those areas in both Tier 2 and 3.

They warned paying two-thirds of salaries would "not be enough to protect the jobs of thousands" and payments to employees of businesses forced to close should at least match the 80% of the original furlough scheme.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: "None of us want to spend a day longer than is absolutely necessary under these restrictions and it would be such a tragedy to waste all our hard work and the sacrifices we have made."

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