Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a three-tier Covid-19 system, which sees different parts of the country placed in different categories depending on their rates of infection.

The three tiers are titled MEDIUM, HIGH and VERY HIGH.

All parts of the North East has been placed on Tier 2, classified as a HIGH risk area.

In response to the governments announcement council leaders of the North East, Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside Council, Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, and Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor have issued a joint statement.

The statement said: “We were clear in our discussions with government that stricter measures for our region would not be welcome and we are pleased this has been recognised in the Prime Minister’s announcement today.

“The data shows early promising signs in infection rates across the North East and it was imperative that the existing measures were given the necessary time to have the desired effect.

“The figures show a levelling off and slight decrease in infections for our region, and we want our communities to be given the chance to make the current arrangements work before further disruptive changes are introduced.

“While the Chancellor’s recent announcement of financial support for those areas facing the strictest levels of lockdown was welcome, our discussions with government will continue to push for businesses in our region to be given the backing they need to survive the months ahead, regardless of what tier we are in.

“We will also continue to work with government to develop a tracking and tracing system which capitalises on the local expertise and knowledge of our communities to help us fight the virus.

“Clearly, there is still a long way to go and the fact we have avoided the most severe level of restrictions should not be taken as a sign we are in the clear. We must not get complacent.

“The threat of the virus has not diminished, and we need every single person in our region to do their bit to prevent it from ripping through our communities.

“If we are to beat COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable residents, we need everybody to follow the restrictions in place, avoid gatherings and mixing indoors with other households, and maintain the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ public health guidance at all times.

“Failing to do this will see infection rates rise further and, inevitably, harsher and more damaging restrictions being imposed upon us.”