TIGHTER lockdown restrictions in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool are due to come into force tomorrow.

Yesterday the Health Secretary announced that Middlesbrough and Hartlepool will follow Tyne and Wear and Durham and go into a local lockdown.

This means from tomorrow it will be illegal to meet up with other households in any indoor settings, including in pubs, restaurants and bars.

The rules do not apply to Darlington, Stockton and Redcar & Cleveland.

Following a meeting of leaders from Redcar & Cleveland, Stockton, Darlington and Hartlepool and the Mayor of Middlesbrough yesterday, Cllr Mary Lanigan, leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough, said: “We have seen an announcement by the Government about additional restrictions for two boroughs in the Tees Valley. Local leaders know their area and it is vital that local circumstances are taken into account. We all want the same outcome, and we believe more local input would help keep people safe, save jobs and return us more quickly to a more normal way of life.

“It is also imperative that there is a plan from Government for coming out of any restrictions so the public are clear about what needs to be done to allow them to go about their lives more freely and our businesses can plan with a better understanding. We also need clarity about what support is provided and, again, that this takes local circumstances into account. We will continue to work together to make the Tees Valley a safer place and it is vital that everybody who lives in the region takes some simple actions to restrict the spread of the disease.

“Remember to maintain social distancing, wash your hands regularly, wear a mask when required, avoid gatherings, and self-isolate immediately and get a test if you have symptoms. These key measures are the only way to help stop the spread of the virus, reduce our infection rates and help us all to a more normal way of life.”

In a Facebook video posted yesterday, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston, said: “Right now I do not accept the government’s intended restrictions because they are based on ignorance. I don’t accept the measures, we need to talk to the government. They need to understand our local knowledge, expertise and ability to get things done and preserve jobs and well-being. We’re really disappointed as things stand we defy the government and we do not accept these measures. We need to get Covid under control and we need to work with people to find a way of preserving jobs and mental health.”

Reacting to the post Councillor Matthew Storey, Leader of Labour in Middlesbrough, said: “It’s been twenty four hours since the Health Secretary announced a local lockdown in Middlesbrough and it is still unclear what is exactly happening on Saturday 3 October. While the Government’s communication with the Council has been shoddy at best - and I have supported the Mayor about this - the Mayor’s own comments yesterday have only added to this confusion. The Council needs to get a grip on the communication on this because right now I have people contacting me who do not have a clue what is going on.

“Furthermore, the Mayor has displayed shocking recklessness by saying the Council will “defy the Government”, only to then state the Council will “100% conform” later on in the day. If there is chaos, confusion, or defiance of the rules on Saturday - putting pressure on our police and NHS - the Mayor will have shoulder some of the blame. I’m afraid his comments make me question whether Andy Preston is fit for office. His rash comments yesterday could put people’s health at risk and make it harder to control this deadly virus.”

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, said: “We are now approaching the implementation of the further restrictions here in Middlesbrough and it is imperative that we all accept the measures and abide by them. They will be law and they must be adhered to.

“I continue to press for a meeting with the Health Secretary and local council and public health leaders. There must be an improvement in communication between this Government and local authorities. Local councils bear all the responsibilities for the implementation and management of these measures but they are not given adequate support or powers to do so effectively.

“These restrictions have been imposed without due consideration or dialogue. We have no idea of what exit strategy is planned or what achievements have to be attained in order to see these restrictions lifted. It is simply not good enough.

“The funding being offered to the four areas faced with these latest measures is wholly insufficient. Businesses and organisations will need millions of pounds of support and that is missing. That must be addressed as a matter of urgency if we are to see businesses in our town centres survive.”