Middlesbrough mayor says people will obey new rules

The elected mayor of Middlesbrough urged people to obey the new coronavirus rules which he previously said he would defy.

Ahead of the ban on households mixing indoors or in gardens coming in at midnight, independent Andy Preston was confident people will “do their bit” and said if they abided by them, the restriction will be lifted quicker.

The mayor had originally asked the Government to introduce a ban on households mixing in private but was furious when the Government went further and said they must not mix in public spaces like pubs and restaurants.

Mr Preston said on Thursday that would have a detrimental effect on jobs in hospitality, as well as on mental health.

And in what was believed to be a first for an authority figure in this country, he added: “As things stand we defy the Government and we do not accept these measures.

But on Friday, he said: “The law changes overnight and I urge everyone in Middlesbrough to abide by the restrictions.

“I’m confident that families and businesses will do their bit, get our infection rate down and then we can work with the Government on easing things as soon as possible.

“We need more information on how restrictions can be relaxed in Middlesbrough because we need to give people hope for the coming weeks and months. People’s wellbeing and jobs are at stake.

“I have every confidence we can get through this together as a town and we are keen to work with the Government.”

The new rules bring Middlesbrough and neighbouring Hartlepool in line with seven other local authorities in the North East.