North East asked to wear face masks indoors and get vaccinated amid 'steep' rise in cases

23 July 2021, 17:35 | Updated: 23 July 2021, 17:37

The North East has seen a steep rise in Covid infections, authorities said
The North East has seen a steep rise in Covid infections, authorities said. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Residents in the North East of England have been asked to wear a face covering indoors and get tested regularly amid a steep rise in Covid cases.

The Government has designated the region an "enhanced response area", meaning it will get more support in tackling outbreaks.

No new restrictions have been imposed but a statement from Newcastle Council, on behalf of North East council leaders, said everyone is asked to "continue to act carefully and responsibly".

They have been asked to wear face coverings indoors, especially when it is crowded, and on public transport, as well as wash their hands regularly and meet people outdoors or in well ventilated rooms.

The Government said they should "consider minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts".

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Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, and the Tees Valley will all be part of the designated area.

Regular tests, even when people aren't showing Covid symptoms, are recommended, and residents have been urged to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

The measures broadly reflect Government advice for all of England, despite most of the coronavirus laws having ended on July 19.

The extra support includes the option of extra testing, logistical support to deliver vaccines, and more help for public health campaigns - similar to what has been deployed in Bedford and parts of the North West this year.

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The North East authorities' statement said: "Covid-19 restrictions may have been lifted, but from Monday the whole North East will receive additional government support as an Enhanced Response Area following a steep rise in Covid-19 cases in the area, serving as a sobering reminder that we all still have a responsibility to make sure we continue to do our bit.

"The last 18 months have tested all of us, and we are grateful to everybody for your immense efforts in helping to protect your friends, families, and others from the virus.

"While restrictions have now eased we must remember that the virus is still with us and cases continue to rise and councils, the NHS and other public services are under pressure.

"We must all continue to be cautious as we take the next step on the roadmap and carry on looking out for one another, not least our frontline workers who we all rely on.

"That is why we are continuing to ask people to help keep the North East open and to protect others."

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: "By working in lockstep with local authorities and directors of public health, this additional support should help turn the tide on these growing case numbers and extend the wall of protection that vaccines is creating across the country."

Support will be scaled back in Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, the Liverpool City Region and Warrington.