BOOZERS in the North East will have to chuck out drinkers by 10pm after a new coronavirus curfew was announced.
Restaurants are also affected in the local lockdown, after health secretary Matt Hancock said hospitality will be restricted for food and drink to table service only.
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From Friday September 16, residents in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham:
• Will be banned from socialising with other people outside their own households or support bubble
• Can get table service only at food and drink venues – including pubs, bars and restaurants
• Are banned from visiting leisure and entertainment venues such as casinos between 10pm and 5am
People in the North East have also been warned to only use public transport for essential travel and to not go on holiday while restrictions are in place
The measures come into effect at midnight on Thursday September 17.
They follow similar local measures in the likes of Greater Manchester and Birmingham to curb rising rates of infection.
In his announcement to Parliament, Mr Hancock said: “The battle against coronavirus is not over.
“With winter on the horizon we must prepare, bolster our defences, and come together once again against this common foe.
“One of our vital lines of defence has been taking targeted action at a local level.”
He added: “We’ve seen concerning rates of infection in parts of the North East.
“Sunderland, for example, now has an incidence rate of 103 positive cases per 100,000 population.
“And in South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, figures are all above 70.”
The restrictions will apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland.
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes told BBC Radio 4: “We should all be deeply concerned about the rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases we have seen over the last week in the North East.
“And not just the rapid rise in numbers, but also the fact that the average age of people being infected is going up as well.
“Last week 60 per cent of the people that were being tested were between the ages of 18 and 30.
“That is now starting to reach into older age groups as well.
“We know that when it starts to affect older people that’s when you start to get the hospitalisations and sadly also the mortality too.
“That’s why we are acting now as a preventative measure to try to put off any further spread of the virus and ensure that we don’t end up here in the North East in a more restrictive lockdown instead.”
The BBC reports that Mr Forbes also said: “All of the testing facilities in our region are more or less at full capacity every day.
“We’re hearing stories of people being sent 200 miles to get a test and that’s not acceptable.
“That’s why we’ve asked as council leaders for more resources immediately, because we need to make sure anyone with symptoms gets an immediate test and gets the result back straight away.”
There’s been a mixed response on social media to the lockdown news, with one person saying: “So, the government say return to work, return to school, eat out to help out, socialise, but now they are questioning why the rate has gone up.”
Others are complaining about not being able to book in for Covid-19 tests.
One worried mum tweeted: “I’ve been trying since yesterday when my son came home from school with a high temp and cough. No tests available anywhere.”