About COVID-19 (coronavirus)

COVID-19 (also called coronavirus) is a kind of virus that causes disease of the respiratory system. The virus can be passed from person to person.

There are three most common symptoms:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, sense of taste or smell

What’s happening in Middlesbrough?

The government has introduced three different coronavirus alert levels. Middlesbrough has been placed in the ‘High’ alert level.

You cannot meet indoors with people who are not in your household – either in private homes, or in pubs, restaurants, or bars.

We use ‘household’ to mean either people you live with, or people you’ve formed a ‘support bubble’ with.

Although you’re able to meet up outdoors with people who are not part of your household, we are still strongly advising that you do not. If you do, you’re legally required to follow the ‘rule of 6’. This means you must meet in groups of 6 people or less, and children are included in the total of 6. You must follow social distancing rules and stay 2m apart. The more often you meet people, the higher your risk of catching coronavirus, so you should try to limit the number of different people you meet up with.

There are also restrictions on businesses.

You can read the full list of rules for High alert level areas on the government website, or get answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Stay safe

Wash your hands

Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, when you’re away from your home – including before and after using public transport, and before and after eating food.

Cover your face

Wearing a face covering (unless you’re exempt). This includes in public places and on public transport. View the government’s list of places you must wear a face covering.

Keep your distance

Stay 2m away from anyone not in your household. If 2m is not possible, try and keep as far away as you can.

Do not forget, the 2m rule applies to anyone who is not part of your household. This means people you don’t know, and staff members in pubs, restaurants, cafes, etc.

If you’re worried about a business not following social distancing rules, please email ehts@middlesbrough.gov.uk with details.

If someone is breaking coronavirus restrictions, you can report it to Cleveland Police online. Alternatively, you can call 101.

What are the government’s coronavirus alert levels?

There are three alert levels:

  • Medium
  • High
  • Very high

‘Medium’ is the least serious, and ‘Very high’ is the most serious. Middlesbrough is ‘High’. See the full list of alert levels by area.


In Medium alert level areas, national rules apply. You can meet with people from other households, but you must follow social distancing and the ‘rule of 6’.

Most businesses can stay open, as long as they are operating safely. Most businesses serving food and drink must close between 10pm and 5am, although they can still offer delivery or drive-through.

Read the full list of rules for Medium alert areas.


In High alert level areas, you cannot meet indoors with anyone from another household, either in your home or in a venue like a restaurant, pub, or bar. You can meet with people from other households outside, in areas like gardens or public spaces. If you do, you must still stay 2m apart and follow the ‘rule of 6’.

Most businesses can stay open, as long as they are operating safely. Most businesses serving food and drink must close between 10pm and 5am, although they can still offer delivery or drive-through.

Read the full list of rules for High alert areas.

Very high

In Very high alert level areas, there are even stricter restrictions than in High alert level areas. The exact rules are agreed between the government and the area’s leaders so they may be different for every area. See a list of all areas with local restrictions and what the restrictions are.

You cannot meet with anyone who’s not in your household, either in your home or garden, or in a venue like a restaurant, pub, or bar. You cannot meet in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space like a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden, or a sports venue. Private gardens are not included in this – you are not allowed to meet people who are not in your household in a private garden.

Pubs and bars must close unless they serve ‘substantial meals’ (for example, an evening meal, not just bar snacks), and they can only serve alcohol with meals, not on its own.

Depending on the area, extra restrictions could be put in place, for example closing gyms, libraries, close contact businesses like hairdressers and beauty salons, or all hospitality businesses (except those only offering takeaway or delivery).

Read the full list of rules for Very high alert areas.

One of the biggest changes is a new legal restriction on who you can meet up with.

You must not:

  • meet people who are not in your household, in private homes
  • meet people who are not in your household, anywhere indoors – for example, in pubs, restaurants, or bars
  • arrange to go to another town to meet up with people from another household in Middlesbrough – for example, going to a restaurant in Stockton to meet up with friends from Middlesbrough
  • meet up with people who live in another town, either in private homes, or anywhere indoors – for example, in pubs, restaurants, or bars

We’ve also published a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand the new rules.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself – and importantly others – from COVID-19.

When you leave home you must:

  • wash hands – keep washing your hands regularly
  • cover face – wear a face covering over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces
  • make space – stay 2m away from anyone not in your household or ‘bubble’, and meet in groups of 6 or less if you’re out with people you do not live with

If you’re feeling unwell, get a test and do not leave home for at least 10 days. This is called ‘self isolation’.

You can book a COVID-19 test online or by calling 119.

COVID-19 is more likely to spread in certain settings (places).

The risk depends on how vulnerable the people who spend time there are, how much they can protect themselves, and what support is available.

Find out more about high risk settings.

COVID-19 Test and Trace

Middlesbrough has a regional testing site capable of testing up to 800 people a day.  The site is located at Cannon Park, in the town centre. The postcode is TS1 1AA, and you’ll get the full address when you book your test. The site is open every day of the week, from 8am to 8pm.

A second testing site is located in the Teesside University Printworks building car park, off Woodlands Road. It’s open to both Teesside University students and residents. The site is open every day of the week, from 8am to 8pm. You can walk into this testing site, rather than having to come by car.

You must book a test online or by calling 119 before you go to any testing site.

Mobile Testing Units (MTUs) are provided nationally by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

There will be 12 mobile testing units across the north east region. The decision on where they should go will be decided by the DHSC, supported by advice from a regional coordinating group, which includes Directors of Public Health, DHSC, and Local Resilience Forum operational planners.

MTUs can be deployed in response to local outbreaks in key community locations or specific settings such as care homes, businesses, or schools, and can be mobilised at any time of the day. For booked testing, MTUs tend to operate from 10am to 3pm from a single site, but they do have the capability to cover two locations in a day.

MTUs are generally drive-through, and attendees should pre-book a test via the NHS website or by calling 119.

NHS Test and Trace will contact anyone who tests positive for COVID-19. That person will be asked where they’ve been recently, and who they’ve been in contact with.

This will help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus.

Those who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive will be told to stay at home for 14 days. They’ll be told not to leave their home for any reason and not to have visitors other than for essential care. If they develop symptoms, they should book a test straight away.

Find out more about being in contact with someone who has COVID-19.

COVID-19 outbreaks

An outbreak can be broadly defined as two or more people with COVID-19 linked to the same time or place, or if cases in an area or setting spike.

It would depend on the type of outbreak. The Council would work closely with Public Health England.

Cases of COVID-19 would be identified, along with their contacts. They would be told to isolate and/or seek treatment to contain and reduce the spread of infection.

Outbreak management also involves supporting affected people, families, and the wider population. This is designed to reduce or prevent any additional harm.

Local Area Outbreak Plan

Our Local Outbreak Control Plan is designed to stop outbreaks of COVID-19 in Middlesbrough, or keep them to a minimum.

In the event of an outbreak, the plan aims to minimise the number of new or secondary cases of COVID-19.

The plan also aims to make sure the right support is in place for everyone who needs it should they be affected by an outbreak.

All councils are required by government to have a local plan in place to respond to COVID-19.

The Local Outbreak Control Plan aims to protect everyone in Middlesbrough. We want to stop the infection being passed on. This will save lives and jobs

We will support your business and provide advice in the event of an outbreak in one of your settings. Information on support available to local businesses is available on the business support section of Middlesbrough Council website.

We’re working with Public Health England to prevent outbreaks in schools. Find out more about how we would respond to an outbreak in a school.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the NHS Test and Trace service is notified.

There are three tiers of contact tracing:

Tier 3

National contact tracers who will make initial contact and provide advice to those testing positive, and those they have been in contact with.

Tier 2

More complex than tier 3, such as an outbreak in a community setting that requires an additional risk assessment and support by trained healthcare professionals.

Tier 1

A complex outbreak that occurs within a setting such as a school or care home. Local Health Protection Teams will work with local partners to contain and undertake contact tracing.

An outbreak will be declared by the Health Protection Board when required, in keeping with the national guidance and in the context of local situational awareness.

Nationally £300million has been allocated for local authorities to support the additional public health capacity required to develop and implement the plans. Middlesbrough Council’s share of the Local Authority Test and Trace Service Support Grant Determination is approximately £1.6m.

Groups and boards

Public Health England (PHE) aims to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities.

PHE is responsible for:

  • making the public healthier and reducing differences between the health of different groups by promoting healthier lifestyles, advising government and supporting action by local government, the NHS and the public;
  • protecting the nation from public health hazards;
  • preparing for and responding to public health emergencies;
  • improving the health of the whole population by sharing our information and expertise, and identifying and preparing for future public health challenges;
  • supporting local authorities and the NHS to plan and provide health and social care services such as immunisation and screening programmes, and to develop the public health system and its specialist workforce;
  • researching, collecting and analysing data to improve our understanding of public health challenges, and come up with answers to public health problems.

Find out more about Public Health England.

The Local Resilience Forum for Middlesbrough is the Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit (CEPU).

CEPU provides an emergency planning service to Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton Councils.

Its role is to ensure the local authorities are prepared to respond to emergencies, and to support the emergency services and the community.

The COVID-19 Health Protection Board is responsible for the development and delivery of the Local Outbreak Management Plan. The group provides advice and is accountable to the Strategic Coordination Group.

The Board is chaired by Mark Adams, Director of Public Health (Public Health South Tees), and includes representatives from:

  • Middlesbrough Council
  • NHS England
  • Public Health South Tees
  • South Tees Acute NHS FT
  • Tees, Esk, and Wear Valley NHS MH Foundation Trust
  • Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group

The Strategic Co-ordination Group is the decision making body, responsible for deployment of resources across agencies to reduce the spread of the virus resulting from an outbreak. They consider advice from the Health Protection Board on the identification and management of infection.

The Group is chaired by Tony Parkinson, Chief Executive of Middlesbrough Council, and includes representatives from:

  • Cleveland Fire Brigade
  • Cleveland Police
  • MFC Foundation
  • South Tees NHS Foundation Trust
  • Tees Esk, and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
  • Teesside University
  • Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Thirteen

The Local Outbreak Control Board provides community leadership in the delivery of the Communication Strategy. The Board is chaired by Andy Preston, Mayor of Middlesbrough, and includes:

  • Andy McDonald MP
  • Barry Coppinger – Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Ben Houchen – Tees Valley Mayor
  • Simon Clarke MP