North East and County Durham lockdown rules explained - what you can and can't do
THE Government has confirmed that the North East will be hit with a series of new lockdown-style restrictions to cope with a rising number of Covid-19 cases.
The new rules will come into force on Friday and will cover Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and County Durham – including Teesdale.
It will mean big changes for who people are allowed to meet up with and how pubs and restaurants are allowed to operate.
Here are the key details:
Meeting up with other households
The new rules ban people from meeting with others from outside of their own households or support bubbles in private homes and gardens, unless for specific purposes listed below.
A support bubble allows a single-adult household to join with one other household of any size.
Residents are also advised not to socialise with other people outside of their own households or bubbles in all public venues.
People can only come inside your home for these specific purposes:
* Where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble;
* To attend a birth at the mother’s request;
* To visit a person who is dying;
* To fulfil a legal obligation;
* For work purposes, including repairs and other building work, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services;
* For the purposes of education or training;
* For the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider;
* To provide emergency assistance;
* To enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm;
* to facilitate a house move;
* To provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person;
* To continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents.
What about childcare?
At the moment, only registered childcare providers will be permitted into people’s homes – not childcare through informal means like grandparents or other family members.
So, you can continue to use childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children. You can also continue to employ nannies, including those living outside of the region.
Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.
Local councils claim that a request for informal childcare arrangements to be exempt from the restrictions was rejected by the government.
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said local leaders are “working hard to make changes to allow the many residents who rely on the support of family members to continue with their own informal arrangements”.
Are schools still open?
Yes – schools, colleges and universities remain open across the region.
Can I travel outside the area for work or school?
Yes, people living inside and outside of the seven boroughs affected by the new restrictions can continue to travel outside them for work or school.
Can I go to someone’s house in an area not subject to the restrictions?
No, people are being told not to visit anyone else’s home either inside or outside of the area of restrictions, unless that includes your support bubble.
Can I still go on holiday?
You can still go on holiday within the UK or abroad, but you should only do this with people you live with, or have formed a support bubble with. People can also still visit the North East for a holiday, but must comply with the local restrictions while here.
Pubs, bars, restaurants, and other leisure venues
The following must close from 10pm to 5am: pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, social clubs, cinemas, theatres, casinos, bingo halls, concert halls, amusement arcades, indoor leisure centres, funfairs, theme parks, and adventure parks and activities. Travelling funfairs are prohibited.
During opening hours, there should be table service only at food and drink venues.
Between 10pm and 5am each day, hot food takeaways can only operate a delivery service.
You should only visit hospitality venues with members of your household or bubble.
Why can I go to the pub but not a relative’s house?
Officials say this is because hospitality venues have enhanced health and safety measures to combat the spread of the virus, such as Test and Trace lists and risk assessments, which private homes don’t.
Can I go to a care home?
Care homes in the region are closed to non-essential visitors, excluding health care professionals and those involved in end of life care – including family members.
If you are planning to visit relatives in care homes outside the affected areas, then check with the care home prior to travelling.
Can I play sports?
Team sports should not take place at an indoor or outdoor venue with people who you don’t live with – unless formally organised by a sports club or similar organisation, with guidance issued by a sports governing body.
However, people are allowed to travel to play sports outside of the area.
You can also go to the gym, fitness classes, or to a swimming pool as long as those venues have the required Covid-secure risk assessments and guidelines in place.
You should also not attend any sporting events, professional or semi-pro, as a spectator either.
Residents are advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work. Face coverings must be worn unless you are exempt.
You are advised not to share a car with those outside your household or support bubble, and to use public transport for essential journeys instead.
Newcastle Airport, train stations and ports remain open and members of the public are permitted to travel to and from them
Can I move home?
Yes, house moves are still allowed.
What happens if I break the rules?
People aged 18 or over will be fined £100 for their first offence, lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days. A second breach will incur a £200 fine, doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
The only activities that will be lawfully banned are:
Residents must not socialise with other people outside of their own households or support bubble in private homes and gardens
Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only
Late night restriction of operating hours will be introduced, with leisure and entertainment venues required to close between 10pm to 5am.
How long will these restrictions be in place for?
The new rules come into force from 00:01 on Friday, September 18, and will be reviewed weekly.
Why do they cover seven areas – not just the four on the government watchlist
Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland and South Tyneside are all on the government’s coronavirus watchlist as areas needing ‘enhanced support’.
But while infection rates have not climbed as high in neighbouring boroughs, council chiefs believe that a region-wide move to impose restrictions will be the most effective – because people travel frequently around the area for work and leisure.
Newcastle public health director Prof Eugene Milne claimed last week that having the new rules covering the whole of Tyne and Wear, County Durham, and Northumberland would help avoid problems such as people crossing borders to find a pub if ones in their area were closed due to lockdown.