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Matt Hancock has confirmed that local lockdown restrictions will be introduced in the North East following “concerning rates of infection”.

The Heath Secretary said that Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham will face tougher rules from Friday.

Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only while late night restrictions on operating hours will be introduced so leisure and entertainment venues must close between 10pm and 5am.

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, Mr Hancock told MPs that the people of the North East will “come together” to beat the virus.

“We’ve seen concerning rates of infection in parts of the North East.

Matt Hancock makes a statement on Covid-19 in the House of Commons (PA)

“Sunderland, for example, now has an incidence rate of 103 positive cases per 100,000 population.

“And in South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, figures are all above 70.”

He said: “I know, the whole House knows, that these decisions have a real impact on families, on businesses and on local communities and I can tell everyone affected that we do not take these decisions lightly.

“We agree with the local councils that we must follow the data and act and the data says that we must act now so that we can control the virus and keep people safe.

A sign of precautionary health and safety measures is seen on Northumberland Street in Newcastle (REUTERS)

“And I know that the people of the North East will come together to beat this virus, as defeat it we must.”

It comes after Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said new coronavirus restrictions are being introduced in the North East as a “preventative” measure.

“I think we should all be deeply concerned about the rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases we have seen over the last week in the North East,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He saidL “Last week 60 per cent of the people that were being tested were between the ages of 18 and 30. That is now starting to reach into older age groups as well.

Matt Hancock confirmed local lockdown restrictions will be introduced in the North East following “concerning rates of infection” (PA)

“We know that when it starts to affect older people that’s when you start to get the hospitalisations and sadly also the mortality too.

“That’s why we are acting now as a preventative measure to try to put off any further spread of the virus and ensure that we don’t end up here in the North East in a more restrictive lockdown instead.”

Meanwhile, Labour MPs representing north-east England seats had called for further information from Mr Hancock on the measures being taken.

They requested “urgent clarification on a number of key issues” around interventions being planned in the North East.

The letter, signed by 15 Labour MPs, asked whether household-level information and contact tracing data will be available to local authorities and what extra testing capacity would be put in to the region.

“We agree that restrictions must be put in place in order to protect public health, and prevent the further spread of Covid-19, and we support measures taken in order to save lives,” the MPs said.

“We do, however, believe that this must be done in close collaboration with local authorities, who must have access to all appropriate information, data and support in order to make the best decisions for their areas.”

The letter was sent by Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott and signed by colleagues including shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson and shadow science minister Chi Onwurah.

In the Commons, Mr Hancock also told MPs: “Like many other countries around the world, we’re continuing to see a concerning rise in cases with 3,991 new cases recorded yesterday.

“And this week the number of patients in mechanical ventilator beds has risen above 100 for the first time since July.

“The battle against coronavirus is not over.”