New legal restrictions on indoor mixing between different households are to be introduced in the North-East of England, Health secretary Matt Hancock has told the House of Commons.
Mr Hancock said that the new control was being imposed after infection rates rose above 100 cases for every 100,000 in the local population.
The restriction will apply to areas of the North-East which were put under local controls a fortnight ago - Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham.
Residents of the area were already banned from meeting people from outside their households or support bubbles in private homes or gardens, but this restriction is now to be extended to include all inside settings.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said: “Today, I must announce further measures for the parts of the North-East where we introduced local action a fortnight ago.
“Unfortunately, the number of cases continues to rise sharply. The incident rate across the area is now over 100 cases per 100,000.
“We know that a large number of these infections are taking place in indoor settings outside the home, and so - at the request of the local councils with whom we've been working closely - we will introduce legal restrictions on indoor mixing between households in any setting.”
The health secretary told MPs: “We do not take these steps lightly, but we must take them and take them now because we know that swift action is more likely to bring the virus under control, and the quicker we can get this virus under control, the quicker we will restore the freedoms we all enjoy in the North-East and across the country.”
From 18 September, people in the affected areas of the North-East have been banned from socialising in private homes and gardens with people from outside their own households or support bubbles, while pubs, bars and restaurants were subjected to a 10pm curfew and table service only.