Lockdown restrictions are to be imposed on parts of the North East following "concerning rates of infection", the Health Secretary has confirmed.
Matt Hancock told MPs in the Commons new measures are needed to tackle increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.
From Friday, residents in these areas will be banned from socialising with other people outside their own households or support bubble, while food and drink venues will be restricted to table service only.
Leisure and entertainment venues must close between 10pm and 5am.
Mr Hancock said: "The battle against coronavirus is not over.
"And while we strain every sinew to spring free of its clutches, with winter on the horizon we must prepare, bolster our defences, and come together once again against this common foe.
"One of our vital lines of defence has been taking targeted action at a local level.
"We've seen local action work well in some parts of the country, and now we must take further action."
It comes as:
– NHS Test and Trace figures show that 33.3% of people who were tested for Covid-19 in England in the week ending September 9 and had a so-called "in-person" test received their result within 24 hours. This is down from 66.5% in the previous week.
– A total of 18,371 new people tested positive for Covid-19 in England in the week to September 9, a rise of 75% in positive cases on the previous week.
– YouGov's coronavirus tracker poll showed that the proportion of Britons who approve of the way the Government has responded to the pandemic has fallen to its lowest level yet. Some 30% think the Government has handled the issue of Covid-19 well, with 63% saying it has handled it badly.
– Dr Adam Kucharski, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who advises the Government, said the shortage of coronavirus testing capacity was affecting the ability of authorities to track the spread of the disease.
Mr Hancock told MPs that, across England, there was a "concerning rise in cases, with 3,991 new cases recorded yesterday" and "we've seen concerning rates of infection in parts of the North East".
He added: "Sunderland, for example, now has an incidence rate of 103 positive cases per 100,000 population.
"And in South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, the figures are all above 70.
"As a result, local authorities wrote to me earlier this week, asking for tighter restrictions and we've taken swift action to put them in place."
The Cabinet minister said the Government knew "these decisions have a real impact on families, on businesses and on local communities, and I can tell everyone affected that we do not take these decisions lightly".
He said: "We agree with the local councils that we must follow the data and act, and the data says that we must act now so we can control the virus and keep people safe.
"I know that the people of the North East will come together to defeat this virus as defeat it we must."