“Stay vigilant and help us recover,” – this was the message from the North-East’s leaders after a sunny weekend saw crowds of people descend on popular visitor spots.

The LA7 authorities said a number of locations across the region like parks, seasides and the Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside were busier at the weekend than earlier in the lockdown.

In a statement, leaders representing Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and County Durham, urged residents to “continue to be vigilant.”

This comes a week before schools start welcoming back pupils, the first stage of Boris Johnson’s ambitious “road map” out of lockdown.

They praised the “vast majority” of residents for being “magnificent” at following lockdown rules and said they have big plans for boosting the region.

They said the plans include “shovel-ready projects” and initiatives to bring “high quality” jobs to the region.

Durham County Council leader Simon Henig, Gateshead Council Leader Martin Gannon, Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, North Tyneside Mayor Norma Redfearn, leader of Northumberland City Council Glen Sanderson, South Tyneside Council leader Tracey Dixon, Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller, North Tyneside Mayor Jamie Driscoll and Kim McGuinness the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner issued the joint statement last night.

In full, it reads:

Stay vigilant and help us recover 

This week marks another important stage on the cautious road to recovery with the Budget on Wednesday and schools opening next Monday, but as we said just a few days ago we must continue to be vigilant. 

This weekend saw the good weather attract many people outdoors for their exercise.

That’s understandable, but please remember to only meet up with one other person or stay within your household or support bubble, and stay local. Over the weekend there were reports of people going beyond these rules and some concerns over a lack of social distancing. 

The overwhelming majority of people have been magnificent in following the rules during the ongoing period of lockdown but we are in danger of undoing all that good work if we all don’t continue to do so. 

It is concerning to see this happening just ahead of the important milestone of the schools going back on March 8. Our teams are working with teachers and staff to make sure the return is smooth and Covid secure.

We all need to support them, as well as our NHS colleagues, by remembering and following at all times the hands-face-space advice to continue to drive the number of Covid infections in the community down. 

The milestones set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap for easing restrictions and allowing us to return to a more normal life can only be met if we all play our part and follow the rules in order to prevent a surge in infection rates. 

On Wednesday the Chancellor will present what is one of the most important Budgets in history. 

It’s his and the government’s opportunity to build on the furlough scheme and business support packages so that when the economy reopens as many people remain in jobs and businesses are able to reopen as possible. 

The North-East has presented a compelling case to play a leading role in the country’s recovery from the biggest economic shock in living memory – a crisis which requires an unprecedented response. 

We have many shovel-ready projects alongside a huge number of well-thought out and costed initiatives which could bring high quality sustainable jobs to the region – linked to our ambitious plans for a Net Zero economy. 

Our dialogue with government has been constructive and we very much hope these discussions will be recognised in this Budget with meaningful investment, confirmation of our existing business case, and a significant devolution of resources alongside strong, suitable support packages to benefit both individuals and businesses.