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Live Reporting

Duncan Leatherdale

All times stated are UK

  1. Thank you for joining our live coverage

    That's the end of our live coverage for today as nearly two million people across the North East will see stricter coronavirus restrictions from midnight after a spike in cases.

    Here's some of the key points:

    • The rules affect Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and County Durham council areas
    • There is a ban on households mixing both inside and in gardens, but outside in a park could be alright if people social distance, a health boss said
    • Discussions between the council and the government are still continuing over whether to exclude grandparents helping with childcare from the restrictions
    • The measures mean restaurants and bars will only be able to offer table service and will have to shut between 22:00 BST and 05:00
    • Holidays are permitted but only with members of your household or support bubble
    • People should not spectate at any grassroots sport or play sport in the restricted areas

    We'll have more tomorrow from 08:00. If you're affected by these changes and you want to get in touch, or if you have any questions you can tweet us, contact us via our Facebook page or email us.

    Take care.

    Covid sign
  2. What to do if you see someone breaking the rules

    Among the many questions Newcastle City Council has endeavoured to answer today is what to do if people see others breaking the rules.

    "Where people are breaking the rules, we will seek to engage, explain and encourage them to adhere to the restrictions," the council said, adding: "However, enforcement action will be taken where appropriate."

    It suggests people should report breaches to the police, while concerns about businesses can be sent to the seven councils in the affected areas.

    "Once the legislation is in place, the police or the local authority will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £100 for those who participate in illegal gatherings," a council spokesman said.

    People aged 18 or over could be fined £100 for the first offence, lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days, and £200 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

  3. Testing centre computer crash causes 'misery'

    A heavily-pregnant woman has told of the "misery" of trying to get a coronavirus test for her ill daughter.

    Verity Ward from South Shields booked for her three-year-old daughter Romilly to be tested at Doxford Park in Sunderland at 13:30 today after the youngster became ill overnight.

    Ms Ward is 38 weeks pregnant and due to have a Caesarean operation in the next few days so needs to know if the virus has infected her household.

    verity and Romilly

    But she and her partner got stuck in a queue on the A19 which had backed up from the testing centre.

    "We saw some police cars go up past us, and then eventually a man came down and told each car that the computers at the centre had crashed and they weren't going to be able to do any tests," she said.

    "As we did a three-point-turn to leave, we saw police stopping other cars from joining the queue so at least those people didn't have to endure the misery.

    "As for us, I guess we try again tomorrow. I've got a lot of hospital appointments coming up and I really can't be doing 14 days isolation. I want to know if I'm safe."

  4. Councils waiting for Covid-19 'final regulations'

    Eugene Milne, the director of public health in Newcastle, said the seven local authorities are awaiting the final regulations from the government.

    He said: "That requires the Department of Health lawyers to comb over them and make sure there is a clear line about which parts are under law and which are advice. I'm hoping we will have those this afternoon.

    "This is a very fast moving situation and we would like to get that clarity out to everybody."

    He said the government had "in the main" granted what the councils had asked for and it was about "treading a line" between maintaining enough of the economy that can run within guidance [which] at the same time addresses the problems we have seen".

    "It is the balance of keeping things going as much as we can while controlling the virus, we don't want to flip-flop between lockdown and rapid viral spread on the other hand."

  5. Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: North East new restrictions reaction

    The measures affect seven council areas and come into force from midnight on Thursday.

  6. More than 100 people waiting for Covid-19 test

    More than 100 people are currently waiting in cars at an empty Sunderland car park, where they say they have been booked in for coronavirus testing.

    People are arriving at the site, but no staff or equipment are there.

    Drivers are arriving with print outs of their appointments but no Covid-19 testing is available.

    Huffington Post journalist Rachel Wearmouth shared this photo of one person stuck in the queue:

    View more on twitter
  7. Where else have local measures been introduced?

    Angel of the north

    The area covering seven North East councils is not the first to have local measures put in place:

  8. People advised not to visit friends in other areas

    BBC Newcastle

    Residents of the seven affected North East areas are being advised not to visit people outside of those places, Newcastle's director of public health said.

    Asked if people could make such visits, Eugene Milne said: "Again we would advise against that. The restrictions we asked for is for people to be able to travel outside the area but not to meet with people from other households.

    "This is about he spread of the virus. We know already with some of the spread we have seen in the region it's happened because of that type of mixing. We want to put a lid on that and get the spread under a manageable level."

  9. Your questions: Can I still go on holiday?

    Here are some questions and answers from Newcastle City Council:

    Can I have someone in my house or go into someone’s house to do repairs or other work?

    Official tradespeople can go to other people’s homes for work as long as they follow guidance on how to work safely.

    Can I still go on holiday?

    You can still go on holiday in the UK or abroad, but you should only do this with people you live with or have a support bubble with. You need to follow rules in the area you visit and be aware of the self-isolation laws when travelling to and from certain countries.

    People can visit the region on holiday but must comply with the local restrictions.

    What about public transport and car sharing?

    Residents are advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work. Face coverings must be worn unless 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.

    Are the airport, train stations and ports still open?

    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?


  10. Video content

    Video caption: Baroness Harding on number of requests for coronavirus test

    It is “quite hard to give you an accurate figure” on demand for virus tests, says Test and Trace boss.

  11. The great grandparent stand-off

    Francesca Williams

    BBC News

    Within minutes of the new coronavirus restrictions for the North East being published - and even before then - there were questions.

    Real life doesn't fit neatly into a set of general guidelines and among the many clarifications people were seeking was whether grandparents could carry on looking after children while parents went to work.


    The government said no, but Newcastle City Council said it had been lobbying for them to be excluded from the ban on mixing outside a household or support bubble.

    The discussions, we're told, are still continuing between local and central government on this one.

    And none of this is made easier by the fact that the government version of what the rules will be is already circulating on social media, while the council's leader insists the official regulations haven't been published yet.

  12. Your questions: Can I still play sport?

    Another problem area identified as causing an increase in coronavirus cases is amateur sport. Here are Newcastle City's Council's answers to some of your questions:.

    What are the changes to playing sports?

    Unless formally organised by a club or organisation, with guidance issued by a governing body, team sports should not take place anywhere with people who you don’t live with.

    You should not watch any sports, including professional and semi-professional events.

    Can I travel to play sport outside of the areas with restrictions?

    Yes, and a face mask should be worn on public transport unless exempt.

    Can I go to the gym, class or a swimming pool?

    Yes, as long as these venues have the required guidelines in place.