UK coronavirus live: north-east England could face new lockdown restrictions as cases rise – The Guardian

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Agenda for the day

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Helen Pidd.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS is due to publish a report on the social impact of coronavirus.

12pm: The ONS is due to publish its weekly Covid-19 infection survey – its assessment of how many people in the population at large have coronavirus.

12pm: Downing Street lobby briefing.

1.30pm: Independent Sage, the unofficial expert committee, is holding a briefing, focusing on school reopening,

Afternoon: The UK government is due to publish its latest estimate for R, the reproduction number.

And, at some point today, as Helen mentioned earlier (see 7.36am), at some point today Public Health England is due to publish its weekly surveillance report, with figures that could lead to new local lockdown measures.

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2.36am EDT

North-east England could face new lockdown restrictions as cases rise

It’s Friday, which in England’s more Covid-riddled areas is now the day of reckoning. It has become tradition that the health secretary, Matt Hancock, waits until the end of the working week to announce who is in and who is out of local lockdown, ruining plans for your backyard family BBQ or delighting your local eyebrow threader, depending on the news.

The announcement usually comes at around 11am, but don’t set your watch by it. Last Friday it was going dark by the time the weekly surveillance report was issued, showing which areas had made it on the notorious “watch list” and who was subject to what measures. That’s because certain areas – notably Trafford, the wealthiest borough in Greater Manchester – were arguing with government about whether or not they should have their restrictions lifted.

Hancock listened to Sir Graham Brady, Trafford’s sole Tory MP, who was keen for lockdown to end, only to have to perform a reverse ferret on Wednesday and reimpose the measures there and in Bolton. Do not expect any change in the restrictions in Greater Manchester today, but some parts of West Yorkshire and east Lancashire could be freed after infections.

It is squeaky bum time in much of the north-east, where infections have climbed sharply. South Tyneside is now firmly in the government’s “red zone”, with 47.9 cases per 100,000 people recorded in the week ending 1 September. Middlesbrough has reached 30.6 per 100,000; Redcar and Cleveland are on 24.9, Gateshead 24.2 and Stockton-on-Tees 20.3 (a 344% week-on-week increase).

The government makes holidaymakers quarantine from any countries with more than 20 cases per 100,000, so to ignore such spikes on home turf would be…unusual.

I’m Helen Pidd, the Guardian’s north of England editor, and I will be keeping you updated throughout the morning until Andy Sparrow arrives.

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