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Covid: North East leaders 'face fresh tier 3 talks'

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image captionLast week the region was allowed to remain in tier two

The leaders of seven North East councils face fresh talks with the government over a potential move into the top level of Covid restrictions.

Last week, the region was allowed to stay in tier two but given seven days to show existing measures were working.

On Wednesday, further talks were "paused" after a fall in infection rates in most areas.

It has now been confirmed further talks will be "coming soon" - but with no detail as yet of timings.

Last week, the leaders signed a joint statement pointing to a declining rate of infection in the region and urging the government not to impose "devastating" restrictions.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported an email sent by Community Secretary Robert Jenrick's private secretary on Thursday night which read: "There may shortly be a need to move Northumberland, Newcastle, Sunderland, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead and County Durham into level three restrictions."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed "further conversations" with North East leaders were "coming soon".

She added : "We're engaging with councils regularly and further conversations with local leaders will follow shortly."

The latest Public Health England data has shown that infection rates are falling in almost every part of the region, with the largest decline in Newcastle - 298.9 per 100,000 from 447.1 the previous week.

The only rise was in Northumberland, with 177.1 up from 171.7.

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