POLITICIANS from around the region have reacted to the news that all the North-East is set to be placed in Tier 3 restrictions next month.

Residents are being urged to stick to the new regulations when they come into force on Wednesday.  

Tier 3 is the highest category of restrictions. 

Here is what they had to say:

The Northern Echo:

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, said: “I know the news that the Tees Valley will be put into Tier 3 once the current national lockdown restrictions are lifted on December 2nd will be disappointing to a huge number of people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

  “Because of the national lockdown measures we have seen a decline in the number of cases in the Tees Valley, but unfortunately the level of infection has not been reduced enough, and it is therefore essential we act in order to save lives and protect our NHS.

“This is not where we want to be, throughout the Coronavirus pandemic I have worked closely with Government to keep the Tees Valley out of the highest levels of restriction for as long as possible, and to get the best deal for local people and local businesses.

“People and businesses have made huge sacrifices so that we can beat this virus, communities across the region have pulled together like never before and it has been heartening to see the level of community spirit, creating light during one of our darkest periods.

“It is essential that we do not spend a day long than necessary with Tier 3 restrictions, the longer we do the more harm will be done to our economy, livelihoods and the mental health of local people from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

“In order to have Tier 3 restrictions lifted as quickly as possible, it’s critical local people follow the new restrictions as soon as they are in place. If the new rules are not followed the virus will continue to spread and we will have to spend even longer under these restrictions – something nobody wants to happen.”

'This virus is far from being under control'

The Northern Echo:

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, said: “It perhaps comes as no surprise that Middlesbrough has been put into the third tier of restrictions. We have been at too high a level for too long.

“I know that many people will be greatly disappointed by this news but we can’t avoid the facts that this virus is far from being under control and the continuing death toll is horrific. There is real hope with the vaccines on the horizon so we can’t relax our guard at this critical moment.

“This is going to be difficult and uncomfortable but we will get through this and we’ll do that all the more quickly if we stick to these restrictions and rules until we see the rate of infection drop very considerably.” 

'We hope everybody has an enjoyable Christmas but does so as safely as possible'

The Northern Echo:

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council Leader Cllr Mary Lanigan said: “We are disappointed that we have been placed in Tier 3 by the Government, particularly after four weeks of national lockdown.

“The ongoing restrictions put a huge strain on people’s lives and threaten the prosperity of our borough as businesses cannot trade freely or plan with any confidence for the future. This is particularly acute in our brilliant hospitality sector, which cannot prosper at the busiest time of the year.

“However, it has been apparent for a number of weeks that the infection rate in Redcar and Cleveland has been too high and we have seen growing numbers of hospitalisations and people continuing to lose their lives to this terrible virus. We should never forget that for many families, Covid-19 has meant the loss of a loved one.

“Throughout the pandemic, the safety of our residents and visitors has been the priority. We hope everybody has an enjoyable Christmas but does so as safely as possible, particularly when visiting elderly relatives.

“Our fantastic shops will open again next week at the most important time of the year for the sector. Please take the opportunity to support them by shopping locally in a safe way.

“The way we can ease the restrictions is by bringing down the number of infections and reducing the pressure on the NHS. I know you have all made huge sacrifices over the past eight months, but it remains so important that everybody continues to follow the guidelines.

“If we do, we can all look forward to meeting friends and family more regularly and make sure as many jobs as possible are saved in our borough.”

'We need more support'

The Northern Echo:

Jessie Joe Jacobs, Labour’s candidate to be the next Tees Valley Mayor, said: “Really gutted for all our hospitality businesses and for those families hoping to be reunited with each other. 

“We need more support than the government is offering but we also need to  support our community sector who are plugging the gap.

 “Today I’ve been visiting The White Feather project who are feeding families in Middlesbrough and the need is overwhelming. 

“Too many families are being plunged into poverty with inadequate sick pay and below minimum wage furlough wages. We‘re hanging on a precipice and I’m genuinely worried.

“A volunteer here today said the government need to get out to places like Middlesbrough and see what’s happening; They need to get in the real world and I totally agree. It’s devastating!"

'Failed at every turn'

The Northern Echo:

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, said: “Despite a huge drop in the number of cases - in Stockton from just under 500 per 100,000 people to less than 300 – Tory failure to support our communities as we tackle the pandemic meant it was inevitable that our area would end up in Tier 3.

“The people of the area have done extremely well in helping drive down the number of cases. Now we need to continue to stick together as a community, keep to the rules and make sure we get the numbers down much more and move back to a more normal way of living.

“While it is vitally important that we all stick to these restrictions, this situation was not inevitable. It is Tory incompetence that has failed us at every turn – not just when they ignored their own experts’ call for a two week lockdown in September, but even way back in March when they were weeks too late in taking action to control the spread of the virus.  

“Had the Tory Government followed the example of nations across the world, we wouldn’t have the highest death rate in Europe, an economy is crisis and the prospect of unemployment nearing three million.  Now the Government, who have failed so spectacularly on test and trace, must get the systems and support for our communities right this time and I hope past poor performance is not repeated.

“Even the 10,000 testing kits for local councils promised for deliver two weeks ago have only just arrived in Stockton – and no-one knows when the next batch will come.  This slapdash approach isn’t going to give our communities the support they need. If the government doesn’t make the progress we need soon I don’t doubt many businesses will close for good, more jobs will be lost, and more people will die.”

'There is light at the end of the tunnel'

The Northern Echo:

Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: "Darlington has been allocated to Tier 3, which I know will be difficult news for those businesses which are still required to remain closed, with an infection rate of over 300 per 100,000 we still have more to do, and we have seen the rate falling.

"My team and I continue to stand ready to assist those with queries questions and who require assistance.

"With positive news on testing and vaccines there is light at the end of this difficult road."

'This is vitally important'

The Northern Echo:

Councillor Heather Scott, leader of Darlington Borough Council, said: “We have received confirmation that Darlington, along with the wider Tees Valley/North East, will be placed into the tier three ‘very high’ local restrictions at the end of the national lockdown period.

“Although we are disappointed that Darlington must face the toughest restrictions, in particular the inevitable impact it will have on our hospitality businesses, we recognise that it is vitally important that we do what is necessary to drive down infection rates in the town.

“Our residents and businesses owners have shown great resilience and fortitude this year and I would urge everyone to stay focused and continue to do the right thing, particularly as we approach Christmas and we hope to celebrate as best we can with our closest family members.

“The data shows that in a large proportion of cases recorded in Darlington, the virus has been passed from one family member to another in the same household and then often on to another extended family household due to visits. Please – protect the people you love and think twice before mixing indoors.

“There is no denying that these are difficult times - as a council we will continue to do all that we can to support our business owners and to work with the Government to ensure that we receive as much support as possible to see us through.”