PARTS of the North-East WILL stay under current lockdown restrictions - but talks remain ongoing for Darlington and Teesside, with a result that will 'likely' lead to Tier 3 rules.

The Northern Echo understands that the Tees Valley, which includes Darlington, is expected to see Tier 3 rules imposed after a rise in hospitalisation numbers and concern from local Public Health England officials.

It comes as council leaders in the rest of the region confirmed seven local authority areas would remain under current Tier 2 lockdown restrictions until the next scheduled review.

Earlier today, Redar's Conservative MP Jacob Young said he believed a move from Tier 2 to Tier 3, in the Tees Valley, was now “quite likely” to happen with new restrictions in place within a week.

He said: “I think because our cases are drastically rising again, those talks will be starting again in the very near future.

“I would not be surprised to see tier three restrictions coming into place within the next week or so.”

In a statement on behalf of the Leaders of Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Stockton and Hartlepool Councils, the Mayor of Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley Mayor, Cllr Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “The Government informed us late last night of their intention to take the Tees Valley into Tier Three restrictions.

“We have had an initial meeting with Ministers this afternoon where they again stressed this intention due to the current infection rate and the increased number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

“We will be having further discussions tomorrow but nothing has been agreed.

“Our priorities remain the health and wellbeing of our residents, supporting businesses and saving jobs, and we will continue to press for the best possible outcome for the Tees Valley.”

Areas under Tier 3 restrictions will see pubs that do not serve ‘substantial food’ ordered to shut, and households banned from mixing both indoors, and in most outdoor settings – including in private gardens.

It could also see gyms and leisure centres at risk of closure while the official guidance on travel would change, advising affected residents to avoid travelling outside of the area unless for work or educational purposes. 

Urging council leaders in areas set to see Tier 3 restrictions imposed, Mr Young said: “My call to the local council leaders is if we’re going into tier three, we should try and keep as many businesses open as possible.

“Particularly things like gyms and leisure centres – I don’t want to see them close if we go into tier three because we know how important they are to peoples’ mental health.”

A source told The Echo that further discussions for the Tees Valley would be taking place over the next 24 hours, with a decision expected shortly after.

But it was last night confirmed that County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside would remain under Tier 2 restrictions.

In a joint-statement from the councils, they said: "Since we introduced restrictions on September 18, thanks to the collective efforts of the North East, we have seen the rate of Covid-19 infections slowing down but sadly they are still too high.

"Action taken locally in September worked and has helped us to remain in Tier 2. We have gone from being one of the areas with the worst rates of infection to being more in line with what is happening across the UK.

"Our Directors of Public Health met with the Chief Medical Officer on Wednesday, who agreed our region's data was plateauing, but it is clear the situation the North-East still finds itself in is concerning.

"In particular, NHS bed occupancy has continued to climb. Although we have not yet suffered the pressure seen in Liverpool and the North-West, we have serious concerns that we could be heading for a strain on the health service just as winter begins to bite."

Call for Government support

But the seven councils urged the Government to provide the support, the 'LA7' authority had been asking for since May.

The statement continued: "We need to redouble our efforts to reduce social contact in whatever setting we find ourselves and we also need the Government to give us the support we need and have been asking for since May.

"We asked for control over test and trace, business support and greater enforcement powers which, had we had at our disposal we may have been able to slow the virus further. That wasn't forthcoming.

"Our engagement with government will continue to not only focus on these areas but also on what more needs to happen for infection rates to continue slowing.

"Public health remains our number one priority. We have seen a number of outbreaks in workplaces and with hospital admissions rising, all options remain on the table to protect the NHS and our communities.