THE news we've all been dreading arrived last week, with Boris Johnson's announcement that groups of six people will no longer be able to meet as coronavirus cases continued to rise.

The rules, which came into force on Monday, banned larger groups meeting anywhere, indoors or outdoors.

However, it doesn't apply to schools, workplaces, Covid-secure weddings, funerals, or organised team sports.

Anyone failing to comply will be hit with a £100 fine - which can double on each offence up to £3,200.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the rules are likely to be in place "for the foreseeable future."

It follows a rise in the number of confirmed cases - 2,460 reported on Tuesday, September 8 alone - the highest daily figure since May.

As of Thursday, September 10, there had been 1,756 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in Northumberland and 212 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the reopening of pubs and bars as well as the Government's Eat out to Help Out scheme, the highest rise has been in people in their 20s.

The county council has also released advice with reiterated the importance of hand washing, social distancing, self isolating and testing.

The council also reminded people that they must continue to isolate for 14 days if they are contacted by the test and trace service. This applies even if they have a negative test in that time, as the symptoms of the virus can take 14 days to develop.

Furthermore, residents were urged to only book a test if they are experiencing symptoms such as a high temperature, a cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell.

Liz Morgan, Director of Public Health at Northumberland County Council, warned that even though cases are lower than other parts of the country, residents still need to be careful.

She said: “Even though the number of cases in Northumberland is lower than many other areas, numbers are increasing and we need to remember that we are still in the midst of a pandemic.

"To prevent spreading this virus, people must make every effort to comply with the guidance around social distancing, handwashing,the use of face coverings, get tested when they have symptoms and quarantine when required.

“In Northumberland we have also seen an increase in the number of people who have returned from holiday and tested positive for Covid.

"Anyone who has visited a country that requires them to quarantine on return to the UK, must not leave their home to go back to work or allow children back into school - it is essential they stay at home, keep visitors away and ask someone else to do their shopping.”

Coun. Glen Sanderson, interim leader of Northumberland County Council called on all residents to play their part and protect the county.

He said: “It is really important that we all play our part in preventing the spread of Covid.

“If NHS Test and Trace contact you and ask you to isolate, or if you are returning from a country that requires you to quarantine, it is vital you do this.

“People might be tempted to get a test, thinking it will shorten the quarantine period. This is not the case.

"Having a negative test during your 14 day quarantine does not mean you can stop self-isolating.

“We all need to do our bit in the battle against Covid. Protect yourself, protect others, and protect Northumberland.”