The leader of Northumberland County Council believes the Covid restrictions currently imposed on our patch are tough enough.

He's in an unenviable position, as he must preside over the everyday business of running schools and the local economy, while keeping everyone safe from this dreadful virus.

In placing Northumberland in the tier two (high category), on Monday, the Prime Minster has made life a little less restrictive here than many had feared.

This time last week, there was lots of speculation around what his announcement may or may not contain, with the closure of pubs and restaurants a possibility.

That has been avoided, while households can now mix in gardens and outdoor spaces in accordance with the rule of six.

Coun. Glen Sanderson is right to be prepared in case the government seeks to impose tougher restrictions, but if Boris Johnson feels tighter rules need to be administered at any point, he will have to take note.

After all, a further nine coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed at Northumbria Healthcare Trust hospitals in the past week, with seven recorded in just five days.

The situation has worsened since the period from July to September, when the trust had gone more than two months without a Covid-related death.

Coun. Sanderson's council is doing its utmost to support businesses, and there is no doubt that the hospitality industry has been hit hugely during the pandemic.

Closing pubs and restaurants would be another, potentially catastrophic blow, to the local economy.

If they are to remain open as they are at present, however, drinkers and diners must visit such establishments with extra care.

There is no room during a deadly pandemic for an overcrowded bar, and it must be incredibly difficult for landlords and staff, most of whom have bent over backwards to make their venues as safe as possible, to take action against people who flaunt the rules.

Coun. Sanderson is right to put the health of the public first, and also to follow the advice of the public health experts.

But to suggest that restrictions don't need to be tougher, with an uncertain winter ahead, is bold.

Northumberland is a difficult county to categorise because of its geographical make-up.

Residents in the rural Tyne Valley must adhere to the same regulations as those in more urban areas.

It's a difficult balancing act, for Coun. Sanderson and other members of the council, just as it is for people of all walks of life across Northumberland as they go about their everyday business.

Regardless of what we make of the government's approach to the pandemic, the threat of Covid remains very real. We must embrace the restrictions and be prepared to do whatever we can in the interests of safety, so we can get through this crisis in the best possible way, together.