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Matt Hancock confirmed new restrictions will come into place from midnight after a concerning resurgence of coronavirus cases was recorded in the region. The announcement comes after the UK recorded over 1,000 new COVID-19 infections every day for the past week and a half. Addressing the House of Commons about the update, Mr Hancock said: “As a result, local authorities wrote to me asking for tighter restrictions and we’ve taken swift action put them in place.
“From tomorrow in Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Country Durham and Sunderland, residents should not socialize with other people outside their own household 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.”
He continued: “I know, the whole House knows, these decisions have a real impact on families, on businesses and on local communities and I can tell everyone affected we do not take these decisions lightly.
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“We agree with the local council that we must follow the data and act. And the data says we must act now so we can control the virus and keep people safe.
“And I know the people of the northeast will come together to defeat this virus, as defeat it we must.”
Mr Hancock had earlier announced an additional £450million in funding to the NHS to allow staff to prepare for the winter season.
The funds are expected to be invested in expanding and upgrading facilities to allow for the safe treatment of patients suffering from both COVID-19 and non-coronavirus related illnesses.
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The announcement of the new restrictions came as Peter John, the Chair of London Councils, expressed concern about the infection rate recently recorded across London.
Mr John said: “We are seeing in London at the moment infection rate doubling every fortnight.
“Dido Harding told us that last week and we know that at least 20 percent of testing capacity has been removed from the city.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan insisted the capital had reached a “critical moment” as the UK as a whole reported severe delays and issues with booking COVID-19 tests.
Mr Khan said: “Many Londoners are being told there are no testing sites available in London.
“The delays are preventing frontline workers from being able to do their jobs, and children are being kept away from their classrooms unnecessarily.
“This failure is putting lives and livelihoods in jeopardy. We’ve known for months now that come the autumn demand for testing would increase. This crunch point should have been foreseen, and then avoided.
“And unless the Government massively ramps up testing capacity in London we’ll be back to where we started: trying to halt the spread of the virus in the dark.
“Nothing is more important than a fully functioning test, trace and isolate system if we are to prevent a devastating second wave, and time is fast running out.”
NHS doctors have also been urging Britons to discuss their health situation with non-emergency number 111 before heading to A&E to avoid burdening the health system.
People have been warned they will be able to book a slot for an A&E visit should be necessary or be rerouted to alternative services.
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