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Keep doing your bit now and we can get out of lockdown in better position

On Saturday evening we all learned that this region along with the rest of England is heading into lockdown from Thursday.

Now, more than ever, we must continue the collective resolve we have all shown thus far to help get the rate of Covid infections under control.

The graphs presented at the Prime Minister's press conference highlighted the North East as the only region where infections rates had slowed.

This is thanks to the support we have received from the overwhelming majority of people adhering to the rules since we introduced restrictions ahead of the tiered system.

It means we enter the new lockdown in a better position than most and we will seek to work with the government to use this time effectively to plan a way out of the restrictions and to build on the relative success we have achieved so far.

It is imperative that we have a Test, Trace and isolate system which is responsive, effective and joined up, led at a local level by our public health experts. This is something we have been asking of government for some time.

A covid hub, in partnership with colleagues in the NHS is taking shape with the lighthouse laboratory planning across Newcastle and Gateshead, to support the whole region and beyond. This is a real opportunity to be in a state of readiness, where local response can lead the national efforts - with clear communication to our communities when an outbreak occurs.

Deploying central resources more effectively will make this possible and it will also allow us to be prepared to quickly roll out any vaccination when it comes on stream in a coherent, targeted way.

Protecting the most vulnerable people in our region remains our priority - so we will look forward to more detail from government on what measures are being put in place to help us support those who are shielding.

Supporting our local economy is also critical and we welcome the fact the Chancellor is extending the furlough scheme to help protect jobs and prevent more families from suffering hardship. We also welcome the extension of mortgage holidays, business support grants and the promise of additional funding to local authorities to help businesses in our areas.

We want to work in genuine partnership with the government to build on the lessons learned, the measures which have worked and to get into a position where we can relax the restrictions as quickly as possible.

Throughout this crisis we have stayed together as a region, working across boundaries in a consistent, cohesive way, with demonstrable results. Ahead of Thursday's national restrictions, we have agreed this will be the approach we continue to take.

Please continue to do your bit; reduce your social contact - wash your hands for 20 seconds regularly; wear face coverings in all settings you are required to do so; and stay two metres apart and only mix in your households, support bubbles or with one other person from a different household when exercising outdoors.

We urge everyone to adopt the new rules and guidance now and not wait until Thursday. Continue to protect yourselves, your family, friends and community and help our great region get the virus under control.

Thank you.

Cllr Simon Henig, CBE, Leader of Durham County Council

Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council

Cllr Nick Forbes, CBE, Leader of Newcastle City Council

Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside Council

Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council

Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council

Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor

Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner

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