In close discussions with local leaders, the Health and Social Care Secretary, NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), Public Health England (PHE) and the Chief Medical Officer for England have agreed to strengthen local measures in parts of the North East.
Current guidance in several areas of the North East advises residents not to mix with people outside their household or bubble in indoor settings, including pubs and restaurants.
In response to high and increasing infection rates, this guidance will now be enforceable by law and subject to fines from 00:01 Wednesday 30 September. The rules will apply to 7 areas:
COVID-secure schools and workplaces are not affected by this update.
Alongside this, a funding package is being agreed with councils to support the measures and tackle the rising infection rate, with further details to be confirmed.
The changes are in addition to existing regulations prohibiting household mixing in private homes and gardens, and have been agreed in response to high and increasing infection rates in these areas, with incidence rates over 100 per 100,000 in 6 of the 7 areas last week.
PHE, the JBC and NHS Test and Trace constantly monitor the levels of infection and other data on prevalence of the virus across the country.
Discussions are continuing with local leaders in Merseyside to establish whether additional measures may be necessary there and, as has always been the case, all measures are kept under constant review.
Childcare bubbles will be able to form in areas of intervention to allow families to share caring responsibilities with another household, as long as they are consistent. This includes formal and informal childcare arrangements. People in support bubbles in these areas can also continue to meet in any setting.