OPINIONS were mixed in rural Weardale over the announcement of a localised "lockdown" across County Durham and the North East.

The lockdown, which started today at midnight, is happening across several councils in the North-East including all of County Durham, Sunderland, Gateshead, and Newcastle.

Many residents of Crook and Weardale are unhappy that they have been brought into the lockdown when cases are not as high there as other parts of the county.

Gerald Hirst, from Crook, said: “It’s a shame our part of the county is included. Our council asked for this and because Darlington did not ask for it they are free to do what they want, which does not seem fair to me.

"The Wear Valley is being dragged into it like the rest of county despite sticking to all the guidance.”

The Northern Echo:

Michael Clarey and Lee Airey run an independent Easy Traders in Crook. Mr Clarey said: “ I am all for safety, but the Government has made a shambles of it all. I don’t think people will stick to it round here because I’ve not heard of anyone who’s had it.

"I think that is down to how well we have been keeping to the guidance, but there doesn’t seem much need round here for new restrictions.”

The Northern Echo:

Penny Martin, from Crook, said: “If it is going to help reduce the number of cases any measures are good. My concern is the lack of tests that are available, we need to increase the capacity at which we test. When I see people out on the street, they are always wearing a mask.”

Lynn Dent, from Stanhope, said: “I understand why, but Weardale is so isolated and we don’t the numbers that the cities have.

"As for the measures I think most people are confused and need more clarification, the government and councils need to make it clearer.”

The Northern Echo:

Malcolm Read, from Willington, said: “What is needed is clarity, simplicity and leadership all of which is sadly lacking centrally and in County Durham. Enforcement is impossible unless people subscribe to the idea then it is simply going to fail and bring the whole system further into community contempt.”

Some people in Weardale fear that the tourist trade which the dales relies on will take a long time to recover.

Stephanie Fishburn, from Stanhope, said: “Stanhope is really touristy but we have had an appalling year. The high street is very quiet and I think some people are scared to come out. The caravans usually come in March and obviously that never happened this year and I think more restrictions will make some people are still nervous and would rather stay at home.”

David Jamison, from Stanhope, said: “I think Weardale has been playing its part in sticking to the guidelines, but we do get a lot of tourists from Gateshead and Sunderland, who come here for a day or long weekend and could bring the virus, but we do need tourists to come to Weardale."

Kenneth Gale, from Hunwick, said: “I hardly leave the house anyway, my family live all over the county - in Stanhope and Chester-le-Street, so it’s a bit of a worry. I don’t think people will stick to it, we did ten weeks of lockdown and now people are done with it.”