LEADING councils have called on the Government to introduce greater lockdown restrictions in the North-East.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said Newcastle City Council, Sunderland City Council, Durham County Council, Gateshead Council, North Tyneside Council, Northumberland County Council, South Tyneside Council and the North of Tyne Combined Authority had all signed a letter to the Government requesting measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Six parts of the North-East are on the Government's official watch list due to a rise COVID-19 cases - although Northumberland is not one of them.

Exact details of what those measures will be have not yet been confirmed – but they are set to include restrictions on the opening hours and operations of pubs, bars and restaurants.

Residents could also be told not to meet up with people from other households – a stricter position than the government’s new ‘rule of six’ announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes said: “There is universal concern from council leaders across our region about the exponential rise in Covid cases over the last week.

“Unless we get on with this now, we are facing a bigger problem down the line which could end up in a full lockdown.

“It is better to try to introduce measures which will prevent that, even though that may mean some additional restrictions over the next few weeks.

“We are working with the government on a plan for what those could mean and how we can get those measures in place over the next few weeks to protect our communities and having to go into another prolonged, damaging lockdown.”

Coun Forbes added that it “beggars belief” that he heard reports of house parties being held in the North East over the weekend given the huge spike in cases reported in recent weeks.

He also said that limiting pubs and restaurants to table service only would help “ensure social distancing for longer, especially when people have had a few drinks”.

The Newcastle Labour leader added: “It reminds people that they can’t just do what they want and stand next to their friends. This would be a way of maintaining social distancing as well as keeping venues open.”

Northumberland County Council has been contacted for comment and are set to reply in due course.