“Draconian” new local lockdown rules could be announced for Merseyside as soon as today after a surge in coronavirus rates.
Boris Johnson will chair a co-ordinating meeting this morning after ministers held talks yesterday with Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson.
Local leaders believe they could face new curbs on pubs and restaurants such as making them pre-booked-only.
The ban on meeting people you don’t live with in the pub could also be changed from guidance to the criminal law, like it has been in the North East.
But Mr Anderson said he is not expecting a full-blown ‘non-essential’ travel ban in and out of the region, like in parts of Wales.
Home visits between people who don’t live together are already illegal across Merseyside, but local leaders fear the measures have not worked.
Tory minister George Eustice confirmed today: “Discussions have been taking place about what further restrictions might be needed.”
A Department of Health source told the Mirror no announcement was imminent and the detail was still being worked through.
But Mr Anderson said he was expecting an announcement of some kind later today.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve already been told there will be restrictions and regulations put in place similar to Newcastle and the North East, so we expect that.
“But potentially also the Government might introduce even stricter measures.
“So we’ve just got to wait now and see later today what they announce.”
Downing Street yesterday said officials are “closely monitoring” Merseyside.
And Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast: “My understanding is that a decision hasn’t been made, but I am aware that discussions have been taking place about what further restrictions might be needed I think particularly around Merseyside and Liverpool.”
Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said “all of our figures are going badly in the wrong direction.”
He also slammed the confusing system for local lockdowns, saying: “It appears every area has a different a la carte menu. It’s a bit pick and mix.
“But we do know there is a need for further restrictions and that they are going to be much more draconian than we currently have.”
It’s understood Tory ministers are now considering simplifying the local lockdown by replacing a-la-carte rules with a ‘traffic light’ system.
That would allow each area to be assigned a standard ‘tier’ with a standard guide to what the rules for that tier should be.
Mr Anderson said there were 9,000 schoolchildren self-isolating in the city as well as 500 teachers.
He said 20,000 students had also returned to the city which could have contributed to the rise in infection rates.