Bars and pubs across Lancashire will be forced to close today as the region is moved up to tier three of coronavirus restrictions.
The move comes after local leaders reportedly reached a deal with Downing Street after talks ran late into Thursday night, amid backlash over a lack of financial support in the North.
Towns such as Preston, Blackpool, Blackburn and Fleetwood will join the Liverpool City Region, which is currently the only area under the strictest measures.
Residents in Lancashire will be told they can no longer socialise with other households indoors or outdoors, while hundreds of hospitality businesses will close.
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Casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops, soft play areas and adult gaming centres will also be forced to shut.
A source told Sky News on Friday that they have come to an agreement, adding: ‘We won significant successions and additional cash from government.’
But Blackpool Council leader Lynn Williams told the Mirror they were ‘bullied’ into moving to tier three and wanted more support for workers and the seaside economy – but Downing Street made it clear there they had no alternative.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government and local leaders had agreed they ‘must act now’ control an ‘unrelenting rise’ of cases in the region.
He said: ‘I know how heavy these additional challenges will weigh on everyday life for the people of Lancashire but they are critical in bringing this virus under control.
‘Without them, we risk the health of your loved ones, your most vulnerable, and your local NHS services.
‘Now is the time to play your part, and we will make sure you are supported.’
Northern leaders have been pushing back against the toughest lockdown restrictions, saying they need a better bailout package to survive another round of business closures.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham accused the Government of treating his region as a ‘sacrificial lamb’ for the experimental measures and threatened legal action.
But reports have today suggested that Boris Johnson will go ahead with or without Burnham’s approval and Manchester could be put under tier three today.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News this morning that ‘the Government has the power to proceed in any event’ but added that ‘we’d much rather work with the local leaders if at all possible’.
When asked by Kay Burley if he was ‘threatening’ the Manchester mayor, he responded: ‘No, no threats. It’s just the facts of life, which is that we want to work, we’re striving to work, with all the local leaders.
‘The support is there, the economic, the financial support – the support for test and tracing in those areas where they are very high risk. We understand the challenges of the local authorities and the local mayors.’
Burnham said the deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, had told regional leaders only a nationwide lockdown was guaranteed to have an impact on spiralling infection rates.
Professor Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the current base level of restrictions were the ‘worst of all worlds’ as they inflicted economic damage while not going far enough to suppress the virus.
Elsewhere, London will move into tier two from midnight, banning people from separate households mixing indoors – including in pubs and restaurants.
Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield will also move into the second tier of measures.
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