MATT HANCOCK has put parts of the North East into lockdown, announcing a 10pm curfew and ban on visits from friends and family.
A rise in coronavirus cases in the region has seen restrictions put in place to curb the spread and prevent another nationwide surge.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that from tomorrow, Friday September 18, the restrictions in north-east England would include a ban on residents socialising with other people outside their own households.
There will be table service only in bars and restaurants, while leisure and entertainment venues will close between 10pm and 5am.
Mr Hancock explained: “We are continuing to see a “concerning rise in cases”.
He added: “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 new restrictions affect two million people.
Speaking from the Houses of Parliament today, he said: “I know the people of the NE will come together to defeat this virus and defeat it we must.
“We must follow the data and act.
“With winter on the horizon we must prepare, bolster our defences and come together again.”
The North East of England will go into a new lockdown at midnight tonight, September 17.
The ramped-up restrictions will apply to Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland.
Mr Hancock said: “Residents should not socialise with other people outside their own households or support bubble.
“Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only and late night restrictions on operating hours will be introduced so leisure and entertainment venues must close between 10pm and 5am.”
In the most recent R rate update last week, the North East’s upper limit rose to 2.5 as Newcastle registered 194 cases in the seven days prior to September 13.
This comes as the number of cases in the UK rose by nearly 4,000 on Thursday September 17.