North East people must ‘step up’ to avoid Tier 3, mayor says

People in the North East of England must step up to protect the region’s jobs, businesses and health and stop it from being put in Tier 3 of coronavirus restrictions, the North of Tyne Mayor has said.

The seven local authorities of Northumberland, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham successfully lobbied Government advisers and avoiding being placed under the tightest restrictions.

It was understood they were given a reprieve of a week, but must demonstrate the figures were continuing to improve.

Meanwhile, the Tees Valley looked set to avoid going into Tier 3 following a meeting between politicians and the Government.

HEALTH Coronavirus
HEALTH Coronavirus

North of Tyne elected mayor Jamie Driscoll said, in their meeting with Government, they convinced officials the measures already in place were starting to work.

“It’s not that the problem is solved, because it’s certainly not, but it is clear that we are seeing things having an effect,” he told the PA news agency.

“That means that while most members of the public are doing a cracking job, we need everyone to be doing it.

“Wear masks, set a good example, wash your hands, keep socially distanced, so we can stop this spreading, particularly among over 60s, and make sure we don’t get put in Tier 3.

“We need the public to step up and protect people’s jobs, businesses and health.”

The mayor said he will be asking Government for the power to shut businesses which do not follow the rules.

While many firms were protecting staff and the public with one-way systems, proper social distancing and ventilation, others were not, he said.

“We are asking for the power to summarily close those who are not following good Covid guidance,” Mr Driscoll said.

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen (Tees Valley Combined Authority/PA)
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen (Tees Valley Combined Authority/PA)

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said it was not just for politicians to keep the region out of Tier 3.

He tweeted: “We’ve all got a huge role to play in beating Covid.

“The next week will be crucial if we want to protect lives and livelihoods across our region.”

And in the Tees Valley, Tory mayor Ben Houchen said Tier 3 was avoided as cases were “flattening”.

He said: “This needs to come down further, but it shows if we can keep this up, we can avoid the catastrophic consequences of moving into the highest level of restrictions.

“This shows the extremely difficulty sacrifices that everyone is making are not in vain.”

He added: “None of us want to spend a day longer than is absolutely necessary under these new restrictions, but what we are doing is working, and it would be such a tragedy to waste all our hard work and all the sacrifices we have made so far.”