Scotland took steps to cut itself off from England today after tough new Covid restrictions were announced across swathes of the North East amid a coronavirus spike.
Scots were told only to cross the border into Northumberland for ‘essential purposes’ like work and school after a new local lockdown left 10 million Britons facing tougher restrictions.
The rules, which include a 10pm curfew on pubs and bars, will affect Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and County Durham.
Dr Keith Allan, NHS Borders’ director of public health, said travel was only recommended for ‘essential purposes’ including school and work, reported The Scotsman.
‘We are continuing to see increased numbers of cases of Covid-19 across the UK, with our neighbouring local authority area of Northumberland now facing restrictions on people mixing, and curfews in pubs,’ he said.
‘As a result we recommend that people in the Borders should only be travelling to Northumberland for essential purposes such as school or work, and they should be extra vigilant.’
Tough new measures to control the spread of coronavirus were announced for the North East of England yesterday, bringing the total number of Britons under lockdown to around ten million. Pictured, marker stone for the English border
Dr Keith Allan (pictured), the NHS Borders director of public health, said travel was only recommended for ‘essential purposes’ including school and work, reported The Scotsman
Meanwhile, curbs including curfew on pubs and restaurants and a ban on socialising outside of households are being introduced across parts of the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire from Tuesday as the government ramps up its action.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has released data showing Sunderland has an infection rate of 103 Cases per 100,000.
In South Tyneside and Gateshead the latest rates were 93.4 and 83.6 respectively.
Cross-border travel, particularly to Berwick-upon-Tweed, is a daily occurrence. From September 13, an average of 61,000 vehicles crossed the border each day.
The previous week saw 63,000 and the week before that had 66,000.
Yesterday, 3,395 more positive coronavirus tests were revealed – bringing the UK total to more than 382,000 since the pandemic began.
Some 21 deaths were announced yesterday, meaning the death toll has now reached 41,705 in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It comes as Mr Hancock today admitted a new national crackdown is on the cards as he warned infections are ‘accelerating across the country’ and more people will die due to the pandemic.
The latest swathe of lockdowns – which will mean a total of around 12million people are under restrictions – came as the Health Secretary pleaded with the public to ‘come together to tackle this virus’, with the looming prospect of even more draconian steps.
The latest areas to face lockdown are Lancashire, Merseyside, Warrington, Halton, Wolverhampton, Oadby & Wigston, and parts of Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale.
Coronavirus cases have been increasing rapidly across NE England. Newcastle has recorded a sharp rise in its weekly infection rate, up from 51.2 cases for every 100,000 people to 64.1 in the seven days to September 13
Speaking today, Mr Hancock said a national lockdown was the ‘last line of defence’. But he warned that it was a ‘big moment for the country’ with cases now doubling every eight days, and unless the ‘Rule of Six’ restrictions worked more would have to be done.
‘The virus is clearly accelerating across the country,’ he told Sky News. ‘We have got to take the necessary action to keep people safe. We will do what it takes to keep people safe.’
Around ten million people across the UK are now in areas of intervention, including parts of Greater Manchester, Leicester and Scotland. But neither Middlesbrough and Hartlepool in the North East, two other authorities officially named as a hotspot by Public Health England, were hit by new measures announced yesterday.
Increasing numbers of infections in London and Leeds have also prompted warnings the cities may soon head in the same direction as the North East with additional restrictions. And in North Yorkshire ‘full emergency mode’ has been declared after cases surged by 167 per cent in the first week of September.
It is also feared the thousands of students returning to universities in the North East could cause the soaring infection rate to rise even further despite the draconian measures. Around 40,000 students are expected to flock back to Newcastle University in the coming days, as well as nearly 20,000 to Durham University.
Pubs, bars and restaurants in areas where the new restrictions will apply — Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham — are now only allowed to offer table service.
Sean Southern from The Gateshead Arms yesterday told MailOnline of the impact the new restrictions are likely to have on business.
He said: ‘We used to be open until 12.30am, then because of Covid we reduced that to 11pm and now we’re being told we have to shut at 10pm.
‘Those hours are absolutely crucial for us, and probably our busiest time for those who want to have a few drinks before going further afield or going home.
‘There’s a few bars in the area which have closed down over the last few weeks and so we’ve sort of taken on those customers as well as our regulars recently.
‘Things seemed to be getting better and then all of a sudden we’re told last night that there’s going to be big changes and we haven’t really had time to prepare.
‘People forget that closing at 10pm also has an impact on staff who might have wanted to pick up a few extra hours.’
Some 2,350 pubs and restaurants ware affected by the measures, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.
Speaking about the number of Britons under lockdown rules hitting 10 million, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘Labour warned months ago that unless the Government spent the summer fixing the testing regime then we would face a bleak winter.
‘The Government ignored that advice, the testing regime is collapsing and so it is not surprising national restrictions are back on the table.’