LEADERS on Teesside say they will push for Tier 3 restrictions to be eased if cases continue to fall.

Middlesbrough Council praised people's "sacrifices", which it said was helping to drive down rates in the town.

Meanwhile Stockton Borough Council leader Bob Cook urged people to "keep going" and said the first review of restrictions on December 16 is giving people something to aim for. 

Middlesbrough's seven-day infection rate per 100,000 of population climbed above 500 in the second week of November, but had decreased to around 220 on Friday.

Data shows Stockton had 590 new cases of Covid-19 for the week ending November 22, a rate of 299.0 per 100,000 population - lower than when the second national lockdown.

The previous week the rate was 455.5 per 100,000 population.

Cllr Cook said: "Despite yesterday’s announcement that we’ll be placed in Tier 3 local restrictions next week, we shouldn’t lose sight of the progress we’ve made in recent weeks."

He added: "The challenge now is to keep it going and get those numbers down even further.

"Let’s not waste this opportunity we now have.

"Let’s keep on following the rules.

"The Government has said they’ll review the current tier allocations by December 16 so that gives us something to aim for.

"Thank you for all you are doing – we will continue to keep you updated in the coming days and weeks."

Mayor Andy Preston today thanked people and businesses for their sacrifices, but urged them not to "throw away" the progress made.

The case rate decreased by 40 per cent between November 19 and 25.

This afternoon, Middlesbrough's Local Outbreak Control Board reviewed encouraging data relating to the infection rate among the over-60s, the overall test positivity rate, South Tees NHS capacity and levels of sickness absence among hospital staff.

All are factors the government will consider before making decisions around tiers.

Middlesbrough will join the rest of the North East in entering Tier 3 when national lockdown ends on Wednesday. Tiers are due to be reassessed on December 16.

After today's meeting, Mr Preston said: "We really have made great strides in the past two weeks, but it's so important we don't throw it all away.

"There's still a long way to go and I'd just urge people to keep being sensible, follow the rules and don't forget the risks when the shops reopen next week at a crucial time for our businesses.

"I've said time and again that we don't want restrictions for a second longer than they're necessary.

"We're watching the data very closely and will be ready to make the case that we should move to Tier 2 if the numbers keep going in the right direction."

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke said: "It was great to hear that there has been a 40 per cent reduction in Middlesbrough over the course of the last week.

"This doesn't mean that we are out of the woods yet, but it does mean that our sacrifices are making a real difference.

"If we are able to maintain this progress I believe there is a real chance of the Tees Valley being able to target and make the move to Tier 2 restrictions at the earliest opportunity.

"This should provide us all with real incentive to keep going and to build on the rapid progress we are now witnessing."

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald said: "We had an incredibly high Covid level just a few short weeks ago. We have seen that begin to turn, there has been a reduction, but we are still way too high.

"I want to congratulate everybody for the work that they've done. It's by their efforts that we've seen this total decrease across the board. We're far from out of the woods, but if we can sustain this I hope to see the numbers continue to reduce.

"It's only by sticking to the rules that we're going to get there, but people have made a huge effort and that's got to be acknowledged - we're going in the right direction."