Dozens of drivers turned up at a test site to find there were no staff to swab them, on the day the health secretary announced tougher coronavirus measures for people in the North East.

People who had booked a test at Doxford Park, an out-of-town business park in Sunderland, were told by the media they would not be tested, as there were no officials there to inform them.

Some had been turned away on the approach to the centre by security guards, who told them the computers had crashed and to try again later.

Regulations for the local restrictions in Northumberland, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham were published by the Government on Thursday evening.

From midnight, residents in these areas will be banned from socialising in homes or gardens with people outside their own households or support bubble.

Food and drink venues will be restricted to table service only and leisure and entertainment venues are required to close between 10pm and 5am, although takeaways will still be able to provide home deliveries during these times.

Some 2,350 pubs and restaurants will be impacted by the measures, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.

The changes, which run alongside the England-wide six-person limit on social gatherings, are to be reviewed by the Health Secretary every two weeks.

Almost two million people in the North East will be subject to the restrictions, officially announced by Matt Hancock in the House of Commons just before lunch on Thursday.

The leaders of seven local councils had previously written to the Government asking for additional measures to be put in place.

Mr Hancock said: “We’ve seen concerning rates of infection in parts of the North East.

“Sunderland, for example, now has an incidence rate of 103 positive cases per 100,000 population.

“And in South Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, figures are all above 70.”

Labour MPs in the North East welcomed the new measures outlined by Mr Hancock, while urging the Government to work better with local councils.

Coronavirus testing
The media informed people they would not be getting a test, as no officials were present (Tom Wilkinson/PA)

In a joint letter to the minister, they said: “We do (…) believe that this must be done in close collaboration with local authorities, who must have access to all appropriate information, data and support in order to make the best decisions for their areas.”

Mr Hancock’s announcement came after measures in the likes of Greater Manchester and Birmingham were put in place in a bid to address rising rates of infection.

Meanwhile, at the Doxford Park site, drivers continued to turn up while others sat in the car park working out what to do next.

HGV mechanic Brad Cockburn, 28, made a 100-mile round trip from Bedale, North Yorkshire, only to find there were no staff, not even a tent or other infrastructure, at the site on the out-of-town business park.

He said: “There’s no organisation, it’s piss-poor performance as usual.”

Coronavirus testing
Rob Reid was annoyed by the lack of official word at the site (Tom Wilkinson/PA)

Rob Reid, a 58-year-old cash and carry manager from Sunderland, booked for 3.45pm, only to find there were no staff.

He said: “It annoys me.

“My concern is about my health and it comes across that the Government is not that concerned, when they are taking bookings on the NHS website and there’s nobody here to do it.”

Police said they will enforce the lockdown measures as a last resort.

Superintendent Steve Long, of Durham Constabulary, said: “The Government has announced that further local restrictions are necessary in addition to those already in place nationally.

“We would like to thank the vast majority of people who have taken personal responsibility, done the right thing and stuck to the guidance over the last few months.

“Our officers will continue to engage with the public, explain the new regulations and encourage people to act responsibly: only then will we move to enforcement as a last resort.”