Coronavirus: Tier 3 status talks for northeast and Teeside paused in response to encouraging data

Partial reprieve following talks with government officials

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Wednesday 21 October 2020 15:54 BST
Sheffield set for tier 3 lockdown

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Talks on moving the northeast of England and Teesside into the tier 3 coronavirus alert level have been paused in response to encouraging data on cases in the areas.

Local leaders from the areas have been in discussions with government officials over the possibility of joining Merseyside, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire in the toughest level of restrictions, forcing the closure of pubs, and bars and strictly limiting social contact.

But it is understood that the threat has been put on hold after indications that existing measures are having an impact in bringing the disease under control.

Talks were under way today over a possible move to tier 3 for Nottinghamshire, though no decision is expected before the end of Wednesday. 

And the process of assessing West Yorkshire for possible tier 3 status continues, with civic leaders saying they have been told there will be no decision before next week.

Tier 3 status for the 2.7m residents of the northeast and Teesside would have brought the total number of people under England’s most stringent restrictions to around 10 million.

After sharp increases in recent weeks, numbers of cases in the northeast of England have begun to level off or even decline.

In the week of 11-17 October, Newcastle saw a drop of 560 in positive tests to 926, while the weekly figure fell by 148 in North Tyneside, 40 in Gateshead and 27 in South Tyneside.

The whole of the northeast has been in the tier 2 “high" alert level since the government’s three-level system was introduced on 14 October, meaning a ban on different households meeting indoors.

In a joint statement, mayors and leaders of councils in the northeast said: “Once again, the collective efforts of the northeast have seen indications that the rate of Covid infections is slowing down. We would like to thank everyone for their continued co-operation and ask - please keep doing your bit.

“We are disappointed that Greater Manchester has had tier 3 imposed upon it without agreed economic support and we urge the government to engage with us and look at the local evidence before forcing us down the same path.

“Our public health directors are working closely together and across the region we are seeing early indications of a levelling off in cases.

“NHS colleagues are working very hard to keep services open and are reporting no significant pressures, however we urge everyone to use NHS services appropriately.

We continue to engage with government and will demonstrate how the latest data shows the restrictions we introduced across the region on September 18 – ahead of the national tiering system – appear to be having an impact.”

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