NORTH East leaders have reacted to the Prime Minister’s decision to call for a second lockdown from Thursday.

Welcoming the extension of the furlough scheme and ensuring residents that they would be there for them, after the Prime Minister announced that all non-essential retail, pubs, restaurants, bars, gyms and salons would all have to close for a month.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, said: "I know many people will be extremely frustrated with these new national restrictions that the Prime Minister announced on Saturday, but they are necessary. The data shows that cases, hospital rates and deaths are all going up at an alarming level, and if we don't act now, these could get even worse and potentially higher than during the first peak.

"I also know there will be many businesses and workers facing even more uncertainty because of the new regulations. I'm pleased the Chancellor has announced an extension to the furlough scheme and hopefully we'll see more clarity in the coming days for those businesses who have been required to close.

"It is absolutely essential that we all follow the rules to get this deadly virus under control as soon as possible. We all know, sadly, Christmas won't feel normal this year but by acting now, hopefully some of these measures can be relaxed in time for the festive season so people can spend time with their family and friends.

"I've seen for myself the impact this virus can have with my wife and I both becoming ill in recent weeks, but I know many more people have suffered much worse than me by losing loved ones and the impact it is having on livelihoods. But by sticking together and following these new regulations, we can come out the other side.

"I urge everyone in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to do their bit by staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives."

The Commons will debate the Government’s proposals to control the spread of coronavirus this week, with a vote expected on Wednesday, but some Conservative MPs have suggested they could vote against them.

Heather Scott, leader of Darlington council, said: “Well I think very reluctantly it’s going to be necessary, you will be aware we were having discussions locally on if we were going to have to go into Tier 3 and there was concern that that wasn’t sufficient.

“It’s extremely difficult and will have a disastrous affect on businesses in Darlington. But we’ve got to do our best to make sure they get the support.

“It obviously has to be passed through Parliament on Wednesday.

“The only message I can give out is that we have to really abide by the rules and make sure when it gets to December that we’ve done our bit here in Darlington.

“If we get the support from Darlington residents we may be able to go back into Tier 1, it’s going to be hard for businesses and for individuals but I think the report that hospitals are getting overwhelmed, for example James Cook in Middlesbrough has got to a critical level, we’ve got to follow the advice of the experts, and it’s not a decision that the Government wanted to take at this stage.

“We’ve got to do our bit to ensure our residents are safe.”

Peter Gibson MP for Darlington, said: “Whilst none of us wanted to be here and we face huge challenges to bring this virus under control I think the Prime Minister has acted decisively in site of data to try and bring the virus under control. I welcome the extension of the furlough scheme which will provide unprecedented support to thousands of people in Darlington.

“My team stand ready to help residents in Darlington should they need help.

“I am hopeful if the people of Darlington comply we can get the virus under control and we can return to as normal life as possible. I’d love to say we’d move into Tier 1 but I can’t predict the future.”