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The government has banned the indoor mixing of households in the north east of England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the announcement in the House of Commons today, as part of the government's bid to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.
The measures – which apply in Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham – were previously just government guidance.
The legal restrictions will apply to "indoor mixing between households in any setting".
Hancock told Parliament: "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 have been working closely, we will introduce legal restrictions on indoor mixing between households in any setting.
"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 can restore the freedoms we all enjoy in the north-east and across the country."
The UK today reported a further 4,044 coronavirus cases, along with 13 deaths.
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The figure was down from 5,693 on Sunday, 6,042 on Saturday and 6,874 on Friday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson today also rejected calls to rethink the 10pm pub curfew, despite pleas from businesses and worrying customer crowding after closing time.
It was introduced last week in a bid to curb the spread of the virus in pubs, bars and restaurants.
However, scientists and politicians have since questioned how effective the curfew will prove.
Asked if the restriction would be reconsidered, A No 10 spokesman today said: "No. I would obviously say we keep all of our social distancing measures under review but no there's nothing in that regard."
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