National lockdown required to slow spread of Covid-19
Joint statement from the seven council Leaders and Mayor, North of Tyne Mayor, and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner:
"Covid-19 is continuing to ramp up the pressure on NHS services nationally and it is abundantly clear that national action is required.
"We are all aware of the challenges hospitals are facing as infections continue to rise with more and more people becoming seriously ill and requiring medical attention as a result.
"A national lockdown is now the only sensible course of action. Tiered restrictions appear to be failing to slow down transmission and the new, more transmissible variant of the virus continues to spread rapidly through communities up and down the country. We have seen in London and the South East what impact this variant can have on health services, and we must strive to do everything in our power to prevent local services reaching capacity as they have elsewhere.
"We also know that the variant is present in our region and our cases will continue to get worse before they get better and, coupled with the fact we are yet to see the impact of the relaxation of the rules on Christmas Day in the data, we must all do our bit while the vaccination programme is carried out.
"It remains essential that we all continue to follow the national public health guidance and stay at home as much as possible, keep your distance from others if you do need to leave your home, wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering when required and get tested if you have symptoms. It is important to keep homes well ventilated as well by opening windows periodically.
"Infections are higher than ever before and if the Government does not respond accordingly the consequences will be dire.
"Our communities have already endured so much hardship and it is difficult to once again accept the situation we are in, but we must take a pro-active approach as introducing further measures targeted at the prevention of further spread of the virus is much better than having to act to cure the problem at a later date.
"A national lockdown period will provide clear and consistent guidance requiring people in all parts of the country to remain at home except for essential reasons and significantly limit the opportunities for the virus to spread from person to person.
"We also know this is a challenging time for schools, their staff, pupils and parents. Within our own local authority areas, we will continue to support all educational settings to continue to review their individual circumstances and support whatever decision they make.
"For those pupils who will continue learning from home we will give whatever support we can to assist in the continuity of their learning. Our priority is educating our young people, but this must be done with the safety of school staff, pupils and their parents at the forefront of our minds.
"We cannot allow this virus to completely overwhelm our hospitals, especially when there is so much hope on the horizon with the scaling up of the vaccination programme.
"The Government must act now to protect our communities and prevent more lives being lost to this deadly disease."
Cllr Simon Henig, CBE, Leader, Durham County Council
Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council
Cllr Nick Forbes, CBE, Leader, Newcastle City Council
Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor, North Tyneside Council
Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader, Northumberland County Council
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader, South Tyneside Council
Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader, Sunderland City Council
Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor
Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner
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