You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Household mixing in any setting made illegal in North East as cases continue to rise 'sharply'

Sky News logo Sky News 28/09/2020 Alan McGuinness, political reporter
(Video by The Independent)

Household mixing in any setting is to be made illegal in large parts of the north east of England as the number of coronavirus cases "continues to rise sharply".

It was already illegal for two households to mix indoors or in the garden, but until now it was only guidance that they should not meet in public venues such as restaurants and pubs.

It means people will be breaking the law if they meet up with friends in those premises.

a person walking down a street next to a sign: The health secretary says the number of coronavirus cases in the region 'continues to rise sharply' © Getty The health secretary says the number of coronavirus cases in the region 'continues to rise sharply'

Addressing MPs in the Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the existing COVID-19 measures were being tightened at the request of local councils.

The beefing up of coronavirus restrictions will take effect from midnight on Wednesday and will apply to Northumberland, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.

It will be enforceable by law, with fines for those found to be flouting the rules.

____________________________________________________

More on coronavirus:

Download the Microsoft News app for full coverage of the crisis

What you need to know about the new 'rule of six' (Sky News)

Pandemic has exposed Britain's reality (The Guardian)

____________________________________________________

"The incident rate across the area is now over 100 cases per 100,000," Mr Hancock said.

"We know that a large number of these infections are taking place in indoor settings outside the home.

"And so at the request of the local councils, with whom we have been working closely, we will introduce legal restrictions on indoor mixing between households in any setting.

"We do not take these steps lightly.

"But we must take them and take them now because we know that swift action is more likely to bring the virus under control.

"The quicker we can get this virus under control, the quicker we can restore the freedoms we all enjoy in the North East and across the country."

People sit at tables outside of a pub on the quayside on the banks of the River Tyne in Newcastle, north-east England, on September 17, 2020. - The British government on Thursday announced new restrictions for northeast England, the latest region to see a surge in coronavirus cases as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a "second hump" in nationwide transmission. Residents in the northeast, which includes the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland, will no longer be allowed to socialise outside their own homes or support bubble from Friday onwards. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) People sit at tables outside of a pub on the quayside on the banks of the River Tyne in Newcastle, north-east England, on September 17, 2020. - The British government on Thursday announced new restrictions for northeast England, the latest region to see a surge in coronavirus cases as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a "second hump" in nationwide transmission. Residents in the northeast, which includes the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland, will no longer be allowed to socialise outside their own homes or support bubble from Friday onwards. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

The announcement comes as new local lockdowns, further restrictions and new fines came into force across parts of the UK.


Video: UK city centres empty after Government imposes further Covid-19 measures (PA Media)

A minister suggested earlier that tighter social restrictions could be imposed if infections continue to rise.

People in England are now legally required to self-isolate if they test positive for COVID-19 or are told to do so by the test and trace service.

Those who do not comply risk being fined £1,000, increasing up to £10,000 for repeat offenders or serious breaches.

Anyone who tests positive and then knowingly provides false information about their close contacts will also be fined.

Shoppers, some wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk in Newcastle city centre, north-east England, on September 17, 2020. - The British government on Thursday announced new restrictions for northeast England, the latest region to see a surge in coronavirus cases as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a "second hump" in nationwide transmission. Residents in the northeast, which includes the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland, will no longer be allowed to socialise outside their own homes or support bubble from Friday onwards. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) Shoppers, some wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk in Newcastle city centre, north-east England, on September 17, 2020. - The British government on Thursday announced new restrictions for northeast England, the latest region to see a surge in coronavirus cases as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a "second hump" in nationwide transmission. Residents in the northeast, which includes the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland, will no longer be allowed to socialise outside their own homes or support bubble from Friday onwards. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Health and social care minister Helen Whately told Sky News that "we don't want to" bring in measures taking the UK back towards a second national lockdown but cautioned the government was keeping a "constant eye" on cases.

It follows a report in The Times that a "total social lockdown" could be enforced across much of northern Britain and London.

Measures reportedly being considered include more restrictions on people from different households meeting indoors, and shutting pubs and restaurants - initially for two weeks.

Schools, shops and offices would remain open, according to the newspaper.


It quoted a senior government source as saying the nation and Conservative MPs weren't "ready" for such action but it "will have to come".

Ms Whately did not deny the plan is being considered.

"We have an opportunity - a choice - as a country to get this back under control again," she told Kay Burley.

Pedestrians and shoppers, some wearing a face mask or covering, walk past signs alerting them to a one-way system in operation to help with social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, in Newcastle city centre, north-east England, on September 17, 2020. - The British government on Thursday announced new restrictions for northeast England, the latest region to see a surge in coronavirus cases as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a "second hump" in nationwide transmission. Residents in the northeast, which includes the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland, will no longer be allowed to socialise outside their own homes or support bubble from Friday onwards. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images) Pedestrians and shoppers, some wearing a face mask or covering, walk past signs alerting them to a one-way system in operation to help with social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, in Newcastle city centre, north-east England, on September 17, 2020. - The British government on Thursday announced new restrictions for northeast England, the latest region to see a surge in coronavirus cases as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a "second hump" in nationwide transmission. Residents in the northeast, which includes the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland, will no longer be allowed to socialise outside their own homes or support bubble from Friday onwards. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)


"This is our moment in time to make sure we're doing social distancing and the rule of six. That's how we control it."

Three more council areas in South Wales went into local lockdown from 6pm on Monday - Neath Port Talbot, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Bans on households mixing came into force in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds on Saturday.

Stricter rules are already in places across large parts of north west England, West Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands, as well as in areas of west Scotland.

It means that an estimated 17.8 million people across the UK are now living under additional COVID-19 measures, on top of those already announced by the prime minister Boris Johnson.

A recent nationwide change has been the imposition of a 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: A general view in Soho, in central London on September 24, 2020, on the first day of the new earlier closing times for pubs and bars in England and Wales, introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus. - Britain has tightened restrictions to stem a surge of coronavirus cases, ordering pubs to close early and advising people to go back to working from home to prevent a second national lockdown. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) © 2020 Anadolu Agency LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: A general view in Soho, in central London on September 24, 2020, on the first day of the new earlier closing times for pubs and bars in England and Wales, introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus. - Britain has tightened restrictions to stem a surge of coronavirus cases, ordering pubs to close early and advising people to go back to working from home to prevent a second national lockdown. (Photo by Kate Green/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

But ministers are coming under growing pressure to review the rule, amid criticism it is leading to people filling the streets en masse when venues close.

Labour is calling for a "rapid" review of the curfew.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has told Sky News he fears the rule could be proving "counterproductive" in the fight against the virus.

"If this isn't doing what it intended to do, then surely it's right to adjust it or even remove it altogether," he said.

Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Sky News

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon