Let's not throw away all your hard work - that's the message from the leaders of North East councils after a surge in Covid cases since lockdown.
Ahead of the weekend, the leaders, backed by public health directors, once again thanked everyone for their collective efforts. They are urging people to keep following the law and not leave their home except for some very limited specific purposes and avoid social contact in a bid to drive the rate down to try and get the region out of lockdown in a better position.
In the days before the national restrictions came into force, footfall in the towns and city centres was high, leading to large crowds of people and even now the national restrictions are in place, many areas continue to be busier than expected.
Public Health officials say the impact of this activity is starting to feed into the number of people testing positive and are asking everyone to take the virus seriously or risk tougher restrictions continuing.
In a statement the Leaders said: "We once again thank everyone for their efforts which saw our figures flattening ahead of lockdown. However, we are seeing the rate of Covid infection rising, hospital admissions going up, more outbreaks in vulnerable populations and workplaces as well as in households and sadly more deaths.
"This virus is everywhere, and we need to all recognise this when we go about our daily lives. That means reducing social contact, maintaining social distance, good individual and collective hygiene practice wherever we are and wearing face coverings where required.
"We would also ask that when taking exercise we all try and stay close to home - we saw large groups of people on our beaches, at beauty spots and in our town and city centres last weekend which risks the virus spreading at a faster rate when not socially distanced.
"Having been highlighted by the Chief Medical Officer and the Prime Minister as the only region to see restrictions having an impact on our numbers, we do not want to come out of lockdown in a worse position in terms of infections than we went in - but unless things change that is where we are heading.
"Our public health teams are currently looking at the best way to utilise the rapid turnaround tests to support our communities and the news of a potential vaccine is of course welcomed - but in the short term we must all continue to try and supress the virus.
"The rate of infection is rising in all age groups. It is a fast-moving, changing picture and every single person's actions will make a difference.
"We cannot let our guard slip and we ask that you join us in redoubling our efforts over the next two weeks to protect yourself, your loved ones, your friends and particularly those residents in our towns, cities and villages who are at greatest risk from the devastating impact of coronavirus. 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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