THE Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced further restrictions for the North-East which will ban two or more households from meeting up in 'any indoor setting.'

The new measures, which will affect areas of the region already in local lockdown, will mean people from different households cannot meet anywhere indoors including all public venues.

This will apply to County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, North and South Tyneside and Northumberland.

Previously the law stated two or more households mixing was illegal if inside or outside private homes, or gardens.

However, it was only guidance that different households did not meet at public venues including in restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars.

The new rules are set to come into force at 0.01am on Wednesday, September 30.  

In the Commons this afternoon, Mr Hancock said: “Today I must announce further measures for the parts of the north-east where we introduced local action a fortnight ago.

“Unfortunately the number of cases continues to rise sharply. The incident rate across the area is now over 100 cases per 100,000.

"We know that a large number of these infections are taking place in indoor settings outside the home.

“And so at the request of the local councils, with whom we have been working closely, we will introduce legal restrictions on indoor mixing between households in any setting.

“We do not take these steps lightly but we must take them and take them now because we know that swift action is more likely to bring the virus under control and the quicker we can get this virus under control, the quicker we can restore the freedoms we all enjoy in the North-East and across the country.”

The new rules will not affect Darlington, Hartlepool, Teesside or North Yorkshire as these areas are not under local lockdown restrictions.

Those in support bubbles, and those who meet for childcare purposes, will continue to remain unaffected by the new rules.

The new restrictions were announced as tougher new penalties came into force across the whole of England today.

READ MORE: New £10,000 fine for breaking Covid-19 rules come into force TODAY

The police will now be able to enforce these rules, and those that break them will face a fine of £200, doubling for further breaches up to a total of £6,400.

People across England will be also be legally required to self-isolate from this week if they test positive for coronavirus or are contacted by the test and trace service.

If they do not they risk being hit with new fines starting at £1,000 and increasing up to £10,000 for repeat offenders or serious breaches, the Department of Health said.

People who test positive for Covid-19 will also be fined if they knowingly provide false information about close contacts to the test and trace service.

The Department of Health said that police will check compliance in the highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups based on “local intelligence”.

High profile and “egregious” cases of non-compliance will be investigated and prosecuted while action will be taken on tip-offs from “third parties” about people who have tested positive but are not self-isolating, the Department of Health added.