North-East leaders have warned that they will “resist any attempt” to impose Tier 3 lockdown measures on the region.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, top political figures from across the region said that Covid-19 rates are continuing to level off and claim the government has accepted that existing restrictions have had success in curtailing the spread of the virus.

Council chiefs were warned in an email last Thursday that there “may shortly be a need” to impose stricter controls in Northumberland, Newcastle, Sunderland, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead and County Durham, and that a meeting would be arranged between local leaders and ministers.

Those discussions were expected to take place on Monday, but are still yet to be arranged.

The region’s public health directors did hold talks on Friday lunchtime with England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam, at which they presented evidence of plateauing case numbers.

And leaders have now reiterated their belief that current Tier 2 measures are “the right level for our communities”, fearing the business closures caused by tougher local lockdown rules would devastate the region’s economy.

The joint statement was issued by council leaders, including Northumberland’s, Glen Sanderson, and the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness.

They said: “Thanks to the collective efforts of everyone across the North-East, we are continuing to see our infection rates level off and plateau. 

“Residents and businesses across our region have gone to extraordinary lengths to apply Covid-19 restrictions into their daily lives and have persevered with immense integrity and spirit throughout the pandemic.

“While the increase may have been curtailed, there is a long winter ahead. The rate of infection remains high and we must now ask everyone to redouble their efforts in order to look after themselves, their loved ones, protect more vulnerable residents and prevent hospital admissions escalating.

“We still believe that Tier 2, the ‘High’ Covid alert level, is the right level for our communities and continue to demonstrate to Government that this remains the case.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government declined to comment when asked about Tier 3 restrictions being imposed on the North-East.