THE North-East will likely be placed under Tier 3 restrictions once the national lockdown ends next week, The Northern Echo understands.

Sources close to council leaders across the region say talks are ongoing this week, but that figures still point towards the strictest of rules being imposed.

It comes as Boris Johnson last night confirmed England would return to the three-tier system that was imposed before the second lockdown began on November 5.

SEE MORE: Live updates as Covid tiers in the North-East due to be announced TODAY

The Prime Minister hinted that more areas across England would be placed under the strictest tier once the national lockdown ends on December 2.

Now sources say that although the region is seeing a fall in the number of new Covid cases, our high figures could still see the tightest of rules imposed on the entire region.

SEE MORE: When the North-East will find out which tiers apply to where (and what we know so far) 

Latest Public Health England data showed that while the number of new Covid cases were declining, the region still had one of the highest infection rates in the UK.

The Northern Echo:

The situation as of figures available on November 24 Picture: PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND

Earlier today, Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said it was likely that the town would be placed under Tier 3 restrictions next week.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Preston said he was still "hoping" for Tier 2 as he praised the "hard" work of those in the town for reducing the number of new infections.

He said "There's a high degree of uncertainty, and I think for the public that means alot of anxiety now especially those with businesses in the hospitality sector.

"There's a lot of anxiety, uncertainty, we're getting into dark days and nights, and people are wanting that certainty to move forwards for the rest of the year."

When asked about what Tier Middlesbrough would be placed under, Mr Preston said: "I think it will be Tier 3 or Tier 2, if I had to bet money - it would be on Tier 3 but basically we don't know.

"I'm hoping for Tier 2 - we've done really well. The people of Middlesbrough have tried so hard.

"Our infection rate has come down from 506 or higher down to the low 300s now which is fantastic and people are just being troopers, they've done so well.

"I personally think a really well-run restaurant or bar isn't a significant risk to anyone and I think we should allow a well-run establishment to open, keep jobs going and protect our mental health."

A move to Tier 3 will involve restrictions including pub and restaurant closures, except for takeaway, and a ban on mixing with other households in all indoor settings and most outdoor spaces.

Echoing the PM's comments that more areas would see Tier 3 restrictions imposed, Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling which advises the Government, said it was necessary in order to get the R number below one.

He said: “It may be initially we might see slightly more severe tiers but then when we start to see the effect of the lockdown, one to two weeks after the lockdown finishes on December 2, we might see some regions stepwise dropping down the tiers.”

The Government is expected to reveal which areas will be placed into either Tier 1, 2 or 3 on Thursday, just six days before the second lockdown will end.