Stricter lockdown rules coming into force in parts of England
Tougher restrictions banning people from mixing with other households in any setting will be introduced in large parts of north-east England due to a continued sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
Existing measures – for Northumberland, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham – are being tightened at the request of local councils because the virus is still spreading, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
It had been illegal for two households to mix inside or in a garden, but it was only guidance that they should not meet at public venues, including restaurants and pubs.
The measures will come into force from midnight on Wednesday and will be enforceable with fines, the Department for Health and Social Care said.
Making the announcement in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said: “Unfortunately the number of cases continues to rise sharply.
“The incidence rate across the area is now over 100 cases per 100,000. 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.”