London, Leeds and Liverpool could be next cities to face lockdown

Rising numbers of coronavirus infections in London, Leeds and Liverpool have promoted warnings the cities could be next to face lockdown.

Merseyside is expecting an announcement from government as early as tomorrow, with restrictions expected to be as severe as those imposed on the North East today.

From midnight tonight, around 2 million people living in Newcastle and the surrounding areas will be banned from mixing with other households.

Pubs, restaurants and other licensed premises will also be forced to close their doors to the public between 10pm and 5am and move to table service only.

The restrictions will apply to Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, County Durham and Sunderland.

According to the Liverpool Echo, the same measures will be brought in for the entire Merseyside region tomorrow, while two boroughs in neighbouring Cheshire could also face the crackdown.

Leaders in London have warned it is also heading towards a lockdown.

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Chair of the London councils Peter John said today that the capital’s infection rates are doubling every two weeks yet testing capacity has been cut by a fifth.

Speaking to Times Radio he said he was ‘massively worried’ authorities will be forced to impose restrictions as cases are ‘only going in one direction and only going to speed up’. 

‘We are going to see an influx of half a million students into the city and that is bound to have an impact,’ he said.

The Southwark Council leader said the government had not told local authorities how restrictions might be imposed in the capital, probably because they are ‘not sure’ themselves.

London boroughs have the power to impose their own local lockdowns, but due to people travelling between areas to work and study, city-wide restrictions might be required.

PHE’s director for London, Kevin Fenton, has suggested that curfews could also be deployed in the capital to prevent it going into full lockdown.

However a No10 spokesperson told the Sun that there were no specific plans to put restrictions on the city yet.

Meanwhile, Leeds has been told it has entered a ‘critical phase’ in transmission.

North Yorkshire has been put into ‘full emergency mode’, meaning testing facilities have been redirected to areas of greatest need, care homes receiving extra support and the brakes put onto the reopening of social care day services.

The North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum said Selby, Harrogate and parts of Scarborough and Craven are particular places of concern owing to rising case numbers.

Dozens of regions in the UK, including Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester, have already been hit with local lockdowns. 

There has been a 167% increase in new people testing positive for coronavirus since the end of August, Test and Trace figures have revealed.

Today saw the biggest daily rise in cases since early May.

Reports today claimed offices could shut ‘within two weeks’ if the ‘rule of six’ does not push surging infection rates down.

There are fears the return of students to universities could cause coronavirus cases to spiral, with images from Freshers Week showing young people ignoring social distancing on nights out.

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