Up to 40 youngsters are socialising in the mass groups in Hartlepool – despite infections surging to 648 cases for every 100,000 people.
Now infection rates there have surged to such an extent the town has officially become the second-worst hit place in the country, with 648 cases for every 100,000 people.
On Tuesday, the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust reached the grim milestone of 200 coronavirus deaths.
Detailing the teenage breaches, Hartlepool Neighbourhood Police Team – part of Cleveland Police – said that they had repeatedly had to disperse gangs of youngsters from congregating.
“When spoken to, some of the youths claim ‘we are in the same social bubble at school’, ‘we live together’, ‘our parents said we can meet other people” and some even claim they are not aware that we are currently dealing with a pandemic that has claimed thousands of UK lives,” the team wrote on social media.
And in a message directed at parents, officers added: “It is your responsibility that your child is adhering to the social distancing measures.”
Hartlepool Borough Council leader Shane Moore warned that the town of 94,000 people was now looking at further tougher restrictions post-lockdown if the situation did not improve.
“These gatherings clearly don’t help,” he told The Independent, but he added officials had pinpointed much of the spread to an outbreak at a dance school just before the national shuttering started.
“From there, children have then passed the virus to families and friends – many of them asymptomatic – and so it has been difficult to get on top of,” he said. “This is now a serious situation but we will keep level headed about this rise and encourage people to abide by these restrictions and any others in the future, and we will drive these rates down.”