Boris Johnson is considering putting millions in the north of England back into lockdown as cases surge, it has been reported.
Pubs and restaurants, as well as all but essential shops, could be forced to close in hard hit cities – though schools and work places would remain open, after UK coronavirus cases doubled in a week.
But leaders in the likes of Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds, where cases are surging, say they won’t support further “economic lockdowns” and want greater powers of their own to help dig their way out of the pandemic.
A Downing Street source told The Sun: “The numbers are going the wrong way, and there will come a point very soon where we simply have to do more.”
Yesterday, the Prime Minister told the virtual Conservative Party conference, Britain has already had to accept draconian measures for months because there was “simply no reasonable alternative”.
He is understood to have deferred giving the green light to Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s simplified three-tier lockdown system, aimed at improving people’s compliance with the rules after a briefing with medical advisers.
And it comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly draws up proposals to offer further support to companies affected by local lockdowns.
The measures will be focused on companies which have been made to close, reports the Financial Times.
The UK-wide seven-day rate currently stands at 125.7 cases per 100,000 people, up from 63.8 per 100,000 a week ago.
When it comes to daily figures, as of 9am on Tuesday, there were 14,542 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.
These have trebled in a fortnight – on September 22, there were 4,926 cases recorded.
The Government said a further 76 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Tuesday.
More than 58,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.
There were 478 people admitted to hospital in England with Covid-19 on Sunday, the highest daily total in four months, and up from 241 a week earlier.
There were 2,783 patients in hospital with Covid-19 on Tuesday, an increase from 1,881 a week earlier, and 349 on ventilators, compared with 259 seven days ago.
Cities in the north have been hit particular hard, compared to the south.
The latest weekly infection figures showing that Manchester’s rate has soared, with 3,105 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 3 – the equivalent of 561.6 cases per 100,000 people.
Other areas with high rates are Knowsley and Liverpool, while Newcastle upon Tyne, Sheffield and Leeds have recorded large jumps in their infection rate over the last seven days.
But leaders of northern cities have warned Local lockdown restrictions are “not working”, confusing and even “counter-productive”.
The leaders of Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle city councils – Judith Blake, Sir Richard Leese and Nick Forbes – joined Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson to write to the Health Secretary to say they are “extremely concerned” with the rise in cases.
Professor John Edmunds, who is advising the Government’s coronavirus response, joined the criticism of local measures on Tuesday and said new national restrictions were needed immediately.