NORTH EAST OF ENGLAND: LOCAL RESTRICTIONS (LAST UPDATED 12th OCTOBER 2020)

LOCAL COVID ALERT LEVELS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Information on local COVID alert levels, including what they mean, why they are being introduced and what the different levels are.

These rules will apply from 00.01 on Wednesday, 14th October. You must follow the current guidance until then.

What local COVID alert levels mean

Local COVID alert levels set out information for local authorities, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak in their area.

Find out what you can and cannot do if you live, work or travel in each local COVID alert level.  Check the local COVID alert level of your local area to see which level applies to you.

Why the government is introducing local COVID alert levels

The government is committed to ensuring the right levels of intervention in the right places to manage outbreaks.  Working with local authorities through the contain framework, our approach has been simplified so that there are now 3 local COVID alert levels.

NORTH EAST COVID ALERT LEVEL: HIGH (See below for further details.)

Durham

  • Durham

Northumberland

  • Northumberland

Tyne and Wear

  • Newcastle
  • South Tyneside
  • North Tyneside
  • Gateshead
  • Sunderland

Tees Valley

  • Middlesbrough
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • Stockton-on-Tees
  • Darlington
  • Hartlepool

LOCAL COVID ALERT LEVEL: MEDIUM

This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place.

This means:

  • you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors (other than where a legal exemption applies)
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • schools and universities remain open
  • places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of 6
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors if the rule of 6 is followed

You must:

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can effectively do so
  • when travelling, plan ahead or avoid busy times and routes.  Walk or cycle if you can

Find out more about the measures that apply in medium alert level areas to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

LOCAL COVID ALERT LEVEL: HIGH

This is for areas with a higher level of infections where some additional restrictions are in place.

This means on top of restrictions in alert level medium:

  • you must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
  • you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law)
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • schools, universities and places of worship remain open
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors.  These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport
  • you can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible

You must:

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can effectively do so 
  • walk or cycle where possible, or plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport

Find out more about the measures that apply in high alert level areas to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

LOCAL COVID ALERT LEVEL: VERY HIGH

This is for areas with a very high level of infections and where tighter restrictions are in place.  The restrictions placed on areas with a very high level of infections can vary, and are based on discussions between central and local government.  You should therefore check the specific rules in your area.

At a minimum, this means:

  • you must not socialise with anybody you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events
  • you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or a sports venue
  • pubs and bars must close.  They can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal.  They may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal
  • schools and universities remain open
  • places of worship remain open, but household mixing is not permitted
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees.  However, wedding receptions are not allowed
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors.  These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport
  • you should try to avoid travelling outside the very-high alert level area you are in or entering a very-high alert level area, other than for things like work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if you are travelling through as part of a longer journey
  • you should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if you are resident in a very-high alert level area, or avoid staying overnight in a very-high alert level area if you are resident elsewhere

You must:

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can effectively do so
  • travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but aim to reduce the number of journeys you make

This is the baseline in very-high alert level areas.  The government will also seek to agree additional interventions in consultation with local authorities, in order to drive down transmission of the virus. These could include the following options:

  • restrictions preventing the sale of alcohol in hospitality or closing all hospitality (except takeaway and delivery)
  • closing indoor and outdoor entertainment venues and tourist attractions
  • closing venues such as leisure centres and gyms (while ensuring provision remains available for elite athletes, youth and disabled sport and physical activity)
  • closing public buildings, such as libraries and community centres (while ensuring provision remains available for youth and childcare activities and support groups)
  • closing personal care and close contact services or prohibiting the highest-risk activities
  • closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences

You should therefore check whether additional restrictions apply in your area.

Find out more about the measures that apply in very high alert level areas to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Find out what you can and cannot do if you live, work or travel in the affected local areas.

An outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been identified in the North East of England.  The government and the relevant local authorities are working together to control the spread of the virus.

Restrictions and guidance apply to the specified areas below.

Affected local areas:

  • Durham (County Council area)
  • Gateshead (Metropolitan Borough Council area)
  • Newcastle (City Council area)
  • Northumberland (County Council area)
  • North Tyneside (Metropolitan District Council area)
  • South Tyneside (Metropolitan District Council area)
  • Sunderland (City Council area)

From the 3rd October, the additional local restrictions outlined in this guidance will apply to the following areas (until that time, the national restrictions still apply):

  • Hartlepool (Borough Council area)
  • Middlesbrough (Borough Council area)

LOCAL RESTRICTIONS

Business and venue closures

The following businesses and venues must remain closed nationally, including in the affected local areas:

  • nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques
  • sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars

Early closures

Across England, the following businesses and venues must close from 22:00 to 05:00 each day except to deliver food or drinks or provide drive-through services.  Take-away is not permitted during this time period.

  • all hospitality businesses and venues listed above (apart from workplace canteens if there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food)
  • bowling alleys
  • amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities (excluding indoor gyms and fitness studios)
  • funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks and adventure parks and activities
  • bingo halls
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • concert halls

Cinemas, theatres or concert halls can stay open beyond 22:00 to conclude a performance that has begun before 22:00, but they must close once the performance has concluded.

For England, including the areas affected in this guidance, hospitality venues must take reasonable steps to ensure that customers only consume food and drink while seated and, if the business serves alcohol for consumption on the premises, it must also only take orders for food and drink from customers who are seated.  Take-away orders can be made at a counter or bar.

Hospitality venues subject to these restrictions include:

  • restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs
  • cafes, including workplace canteens, but not including
    • cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school
    • canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence
  • services providing food or drink to the homeless
  • bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
  • public houses
  • social clubs
  • casinos

In all areas affected, hospitality venues should also take steps to ensure that people do not socialise outside of their households inside and outside your premises.

Across England, the following businesses and venues must close from 22:00 to 05:00 each day each day except to deliver food, or provide drive-thrus, but take-away is not permitted:

  • all hospitality businesses and venues listed above (save that workplace canteens can remain open if there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food)
  • bowling alleys
  • amusement arcades or other indoor leisure centres or facilities (excluding indoor gyms and fitness studios)
  • funfairs (indoors or outdoors), theme parks and adventure parks and activities
  • bingo halls
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • concert halls

Cinemas, theatres or concert halls can stay open beyond 22:00 to conclude a performance that has begun before 22:00, but they must close once the performance has concluded.

BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS

Hospitality venues must take reasonable steps to ensure:

  • customers only consume food and drink while seated in the premises
  • orders are taken from customers who are seated, if the business serves alcohol for consumption on the premises
  • bookings are not accepted, or customers admitted onto the premises if:
    • groups include more than one household and support bubble if they will be located indoors
    • groups include more than one household and support bubble, or more than 6 people if the group includes multiple households, if they will be located outdoors
  • Customers do not join other groups inside the premises (including outdoor areas such as beer gardens)
  • Tables are appropriately spaced to enable social distancing

Take-away orders can continue to be made at a counter or bar.

Hospitality venues subject to these restrictions include:

  • restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs
  • bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
  • public houses
  • social clubs
  • casinos
  • cafes
  • workplace canteens (except those exempted below)

The following businesses and venues are not subjected to these restrictions:

  • cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school
  • canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence
  • services providing food or drink to the homeless

There are also some limited exceptions to the one household restrictions indoors or the 6 person limits outdoors set out in law.  In particular, for hospitality settings, there is a limit of 15 persons in relation to people attending a wedding or civil partnership reception.

Across England, unless you have an exemption, you must wear a face covering in a range of indoor premises.  This now includes hospitality venues (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when eating or drinking.

Businesses can be fined by local authorities or the police if they fail to fulfil the obligations placed on them in law, such as ensuring that people do not meet in their premises with people outside of their household or support bubble, ensuring that tables are appropriately spaced, that loud music isn’t played and that customers do not sing in non-household groups, or dance.  Fines will be issued:

  • £1,000 for the first offence
  • £2,000 for the second offence
  • £4,000 for the third offence
  • and then £10,000 for the fourth and all subsequent offences

SOCIAL CONTACT RESTRICTIONS

If you live in the affected local areas, you must not (unless they’re in your support or childcare bubble):

  • host people you do not live with in your home or garden
  • meet people you do not live with in their home or garden, whether inside or outside the affected local areas
  • socialise with people who you do not live with in indoor settings, whether inside or outside of the affected local areas

Your household is defined as the people you live with and any support bubble.

support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household (on an exclusive basis).  Households within a bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal (i.e. unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household.  This must occur on an exclusive basis - always the same two households.

The police will be able to take action against those who break these rules, including asking people to disperse and issuing fixed penalty notices starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings.

People aged 18 or over can be fined:

  • £200 for the first offence, lowered to £100 if paid within 14 days
  • £400 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £6,400

The government has also introduced fines for those who hold illegal gatherings of over 30 people. Holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people is an offence, and police may issue fines of £10,000 to those who break the law.

Gatherings within indoor settings, as well as your home or garden can still take place for specific purposes set out in law:

  • 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 (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes), 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 and informal childcare as part of a childcare bubble
  • 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

When meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than 6.  Further details can be found in the guidance for meeting others safely, including associated exemptions.  In the areas affected local areas, we also advise that you should not:

  • meet with people you do not live with, unless they’re in your support bubble, in any outdoor public venues.  This includes outdoor areas of venues (such as a beer garden) and areas directly outside of settings or venues, such as the pavement or road and parks.  This applies to inside and outside of the affected local areas.
  • visit friends or family in care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances.  Care homes should restrict visits to these circumstances.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

You should follow all relevant transport guidance when making a journey into, within or out of the affected local areas.

You must wear a face covering on public transport, taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) and in substantially enclosed areas of transport hubs in England (as well as other indoor premises).

You will be breaking the law if you fail to do so and could be fined.  Some people do not have to wear a face covering including for age, health, or disability reasons.

We advise that you should only travel for essential reasons when travelling into, within and out of the affected local areas.  We encourage you to walk or cycle where possible and to plan your journey in advance, avoiding busy times and routes if possible. Examples of essential travel include:

  • to get to and from work
  • to get essential food or medical supplies including click and collect services
  • to support someone who is vulnerable, if no one else can do so
  • to travel to and from the homes of others in your support bubble
  • to attend an early years setting, school or college, or to accompany a child who is attending an early years setting, school, college or university where necessary
  • to fulfil legal obligations
  • to seek medical care, or avoid illness, injury or harm

You should also try not to share a car with those outside your household or support bubble.  If you need to, try to:

  • share the car with the same people each time
  • keep to small groups of people at any one time
  • open windows for ventilation
  • travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow
  • consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • ask the driver and passengers to wear a face covering

See more guidance on car sharing and travelling wit people outside your household group.

You can still go on holiday outside of the affected local areas, but you should only do this with people you live with (or have formed a support bubble with).

There is separate guidance on what to do if you have booked holiday accommodation in an area with local restrictions.

SHIELDING

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable we are not currently advising that you need to shield, however it is important that you continue to take precautions.   Find out more from the general guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people.

TEAM SPORT AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

You can continue to take part in organised sporting or licensed physical activity in groups of more than 6 outdoors and only one household and support bubble (for over 18s).  There is an exemption for indoor sports if it is organised for the purposes of someone who has a disability taking part and an exemption for children’s activities.

Outdoor activities either need to be organised by a national governing body, club, registered instructor/coach, business or charity, and/or involve someone who has received an official licence to use equipment relevant to the activity.  In all cases, the organiser must conduct a risk assessment and ensure compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

You should only be playing team sports where the relevant governing body has published guidance on how to do so safely and is outdoors.  See a list of team sports governing bodies which have developed guidance.  For all other sports, guidance is available from your governing body and details on how to safely undertake this activity within an organised environment.

Organised dance and exercise classes can take place in groups of more than 6 outdoors, where a risk assessment has been carried out, but you must not mix with more than five other participants.  The relevant indoor sport facilities guidance or outdoor guidance must be followed for these activities.  Outdoor organised sport and physical activity events are allowed provided they follow guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England.

We advise that you should not attend amateur or professional sporting events as a spectator in the affected local areas.  If you do attend, you must remain socially distanced and groups of no more than 6 when outdoors (and if indoors only with your household or support bubble).

WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS

From Monday 14 September, in line with the new rules across the whole of England, you must not meet in a group of more than 6 people in any location.  Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, funerals (including ceremonies at crematoria) are exempt.

In all affected local areas the following applies:

  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are limited to 15 people from 28 September (the limit is 30 people until then)
  • Wedding receptions and civil partnership celebrations can continue for up to 15 people in the form of a sit-down meal and in a Covid-19 Secure setting from 28 September (the limit is 30 people until then)
  • Funerals (including ceremonies at crematoria) are limited to 30 people
  • All other religious or belief-based standalone life cycle ceremonies or celebrations are limited to 6 people if outdoors and only one household and support bubble indoors

Anyone working at these ceremonies or events are not included as part of the person limit.

These events should comply with the COVID-19 Secure guidance and venue capacity.  See detailed guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships.

People living outside of the affected local areas can travel to those areas in order to attend a wedding, civil partnership ceremony or funeral, but must not meet with another household in a private home or garden.

RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES AND PLACES OF WORSHIP

In line with the rules across the whole of England, you must not meet in a group of more than 6 people in any outdoor location and indoors you must not meet with anyone outside your household or support bubble.

You may attend a mosque, church, synagogue, temple or other place or worship, but you should socially distance from people outside of your household.  This means maintaining a distance of 2 metres, or 1 metre with mitigations (such as wearing face coverings).

If possible, prayer or religious services should take place outdoors.

GOING TO WORK

People living inside and outside of the affected local areas can continue to travel in and out for work.  However, to help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter.  Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so.  Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary.  Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work.  The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely.  Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT - FURLOUGH

CHILDCARE

You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children.  You can also continue to employ nannies – see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.

The following people can provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:

  • Registered childcare providers, including nannies
  • People who are in your support bubble
  • People who are in your childcare support bubble

Friends or family who do not live with you and are not part of a support or childcare bubble must not visit your home to help with childcare.

A support bubble is where a lone adult household with one adult joins with another household (on an exclusive basis).

A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal (i.e. unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household.  This must occur on an exclusive basis - always the same two households.

We recommend that you form a support bubble or childcare support bubble with a household that lives locally wherever possible.  This will help to prevent the virus spreading from an area where there might be a higher rate of infection.

Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.

SCHOOLS & COLLEGES (FACE COVERINGS)

In education settings where pupils and students in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and pupils/students when moving around in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.  It is not necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower and they may inhibit teaching and learning.

UNIVERSITIES & HIGHER EDUCATION

You can move home and travel in order to attend or work at a university or higher educational establishment.  This applies to the whole country, including the affected local areas in this guidance.

You should follow all relevant university and higher educational guidance if you attend, work at or manage higher education establishments, including universities and associated accommodation.  The guidance also covers what to do in the event of an outbreak at these establishments.  It is important to understand how to minimise risk during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and ensure that the experience of attending or working at these establishments is enjoyable and as safe as possible.

We recognise the pressure of attending or working at these establishments during these uncertain times.  There are support services within your university or higher education establishment to help you should you need advice or support.  In addition, we have worked with the Office for Students to provide the Student Space platform, which seeks to bridge gaps in mental support for students arising from this unprecedented situation.  It provides a range of information, access to dedicated support services, details of the support available at each university, and tools to help students manage the challenges of their student life.

Students are expected to follow the latest guidance on social contact and meeting with others safely in their local area whilst attending university, and should not leave their university accommodation to go home in the event of an outbreak or restrictions being applied in a local area.

If you are living or plan to live in student halls or official accommodation in one of the affected local areas:

  • you must not meet people in a group of more than 6 outdoors
  • you must not meet people you do not live with in their home, garden or indoors anywhere else, whether inside or outside of the affected local areas, unless they’re in your support bubble or the situation is covered by an exemption
  • you must not host people you do not live with in your student halls, unless they’re in your support bubble
  • you must not meet people you do not live with in their student halls, whether inside or outside of the affected local areas unless they’re in your support bubble

To note – if you plan to live in an affected area, restrictions on hosting people you do not live with only apply to you once you move to said area.  However, even before you do so, you must not meet with people you don’t live with in an affected area indoors.

You are living or plan to live in private rented accommodation in one of the affected local areas:

  • you must not meet people in a group of more than 6 outdoors
  • you must not host people you do not live with in your home or garden, unless they’re in your support bubble
  • you must not meet people you do not live with indoors including in their home or garden, whether inside or outside of the affected local areas, unless they’re in your support bubble
  • you must not meet people you do not live with in their student halls, whether inside or outside of the affected local areas unless they’re in your support bubble

You relocate or currently live in an area outside of one of the affected local areas:

  • you must not meet people in a group of more than 6
  • you must not host people you do not live with in your home or garden, if they live in one of the affected local areas, unless they’re in your support bubble
  • you should not host people you do not live with in your student halls, if they live in an affected area, unless they’re in your support bubble

You commute into an affected area to attend or work at a university:

  • you must not meet people in a group of more than 6 outdoors.
  • you must not meet people you do not live with indoors including in their home or garden inside one of the affected local areas, unless they’re in your support bubble
  • you must not host people you do not live with in your home or garden, if they live in one of the affected local areas, unless they’re in your support bubble
  • you must not meet people you do not live with in their student halls, whether inside or outside of one of the affected local areas unless they’re in your support bubble.

MOVING HOME

People can move home.  Estate and letting agents, and removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.

Please see the full guidance on moving home safely, including advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.