Lancashire and Greater Manchester could be placed under stricter coronavirus restrictions as early as tomorrow, according to reports.

Local leaders are set for talks with Downing Street tomorrow morning (Thursday) ahead of health secretary Matt Hancock updating the Commons at 11.30am.

The tougher rules could be imposed on the North West within a matter of hours – if the decision goes ahead.

Andy Burnham tweeted: “We’ve just concluded a briefing with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. We are expecting a further meeting with the PM’s team in the morning.”

Lancashire council leader Geoff Driver said: "If we don't take proper measures now, within three weeks the hospitals in Lancashire will be having the same admissions for Covid as they did at the height of the first wave."

Following reports by Sky News that a change to tier 3 had already been signed off, Mr Burnham tweeted: "Said I wasn’t going to comment but now feel compelled to do so on the back of this Government briefing. At no point during tonight’s briefing was this news communicated to us. Media told first once again. Our position has not changed."

Earlier today, Mr Burnham, who has resisted pressure to agree to Tier 3 restrictions, threatened legal action if the move is imposed by Whitehall despite his opposition.

The BBC reported the Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that most of the North West and North East of England, together with large parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands should be placed in Tier 3 – although no final decisions have been taken.

The Northern Echo:

There was no immediate response from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Pressure on the Prime Minister to take tougher action has intensified after Sir Keir backed the Government’s scientific advisory panel Sage’s call for a short national lockdown.

In testy exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson accused him of opportunism and urged the Labour chief to put pressure on his party’s local leaders in northern England to accept tighter restrictions under the new multi-tier system.

Sir Keir’s call for a lockdown has fractured the fragile consensus on the coronavirus response that existed at Westminster, and in the Commons he suggested the Prime Minister’s failure to follow scientific advice had cost lives.

The Labour leader said that since the Sage advice was given on September 21 “the infection rate has quadrupled, hospital admissions have gone from 275 a day to 628 a day in England, yesterday 441 Covid patients were on ventilators and the number of deaths recorded was – tragically – the highest since June 10”.

“That’s the cost of rejecting the advice,” Sir Keir told Mr Johnson.

The Prime Minister defended his approach, saying: “The whole point is to seize this moment now to avoid the misery of another national lockdown – into which he wants to go headlong – by delivering a regional solution.”

And he urged Sir Keir to “get on to his Labour friends in those parts of the north of England where we want to work with them to put those very stringent measures in place in order to deliver the reductions that the whole country wants to see”.

The Prime Minister’s new three-tier system of coronavirus restrictions for England came into effect on Wednesday, but the Liverpool City Region is the only area to be under the toughest rules.