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Health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed a fresh round of local lockdowns across towns in the north of England, alongside a £2.7bn funding boost for the NHS.
From today, additional lockdown measures will be imposed in Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.
These will include:
- Households only being allowed to visit and spend time with those in their designated support bubble
- Table service only in restaurants and bars
- A curfew on all shops and bars to be closed between 10pm and 5am.
Read more: Coronavirus: Which English towns are at risk of a local lockdown?
"The battle against coronavirus is not over," said Hancock, speaking to MPs in the House of Commons.
"We've seen concerning rates of infections in parts of the north-east," he said, adding that local authorities have asked for tighter restrictions to help combat the spread of disease.
"With winter on the horizon, we must prepare, bolster our defences and come together against this common foe."
The health secretary said the further £2.7bn in funding for the NHS was to support it during winter months and work through a backlog in elective work, in addition to extra funding for personal protective equipments.
Emergency departments will be made bigger, with the government spending £150m to expand 25 emergency sites including locations under strain such as Worcester and Royal Shrewsbury.
Read more: Boris Johnson plan for millions of coronavirus tests each day 'a long way off'
The role of NHS 111 will also be expanded to form a gateway to emergency care.
Hancock said trials will now be held in which rather than queuing in emergency wards, people should call 111 first to book an appointment with whoever can give them the most appropriate care, such as a GP or pharmacy.
If it is determined to be a matter for an emergency department or urgent care, advisers on 111 can then book patients into a time slot at emergency care locations.
This will be rolled out to all trusts from December, if successful.
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