TEN million Brits in the North are to be hit by a tougher lockdown on Monday as Covid numbers soar.
Boris Johnson is poised to order pubs and restaurants to shut in Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.
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But he faces a rebellion from MPs, local leaders in the North West and North East and even close allies over the new measures.
Top Tories have begged him not to copy Scotland, which yesterday ordered pubs to shut.
Mr Johnson intends to unveil his simplified three-tier local lockdown code next week.
In plans signed off at a ministerial “gold command” meeting last night, Tier 1 will see current social distancing measures, the “rule of six” and a pub curfew of 10pm enforced.
Areas in Tier 2 will have the same restrictions plus a ban on households mixing.
Vast swathes of the virus-hit North West and North East would automatically fall under Tier 3, in which pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses will be shut.
People will not be able to mix households — except those with exemptions — and will have to abide by the national social distancing laws, such as wearing face masks.
Ministers are still working out other details, such as whether leisure centres and hairdressers stay open or shut.
Schools, work and retail shops will stay open.
The measures will be imposed for a limited period — certainly for some weeks — but are yet to be fully agreed.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will bail out blighted businesses, with workers entitled to a new form of furlough.
But one of Mr Johnson's closest allies, former Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, told The Sun: “It would be economic suicide for England to follow this path.”
The looming restrictions come as cases in the North West rose by 56 per cent in the seven days to October 1, while hospital admissions were up by 46 per cent.
In the North East there was a 46 per cent rise in cases, with hospital admissions up 45.9 per cent.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon locked down pubs in central Scotland for at least two weeks to tackle a coronavirus surge.
Former Cabinet minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned the PM that there would be a major Tory rebellion if he copied Ms Sturgeon’s lockdown.
Worried restaurant boss Karl Stafford warned businesses would go to the wall unless the government stepped in to help.
Karl, 45, who runs the Simply Greek restaurant on the Bigg Market, Newcastle’s famous nightlife hotspot, said: “Things can hardly get any worse. Today I was struggling to pay the rent.
“But if they close down selected cities completely I hope that they have a package of measures in place to help keep restaurants like mine and all the pubs and bars alive.
“I love and appreciate my staff and I want to keep them all in jobs but things are terrible, we are ordering in food that's going to waste or giving it away to the homeless.”
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the North would resist any lockdown unless Government worked out a plan with local leaders.
He said: “We will not have a tier system imposed upon us without us having the ability to see and agree the detail.”
And he added: “We cannot have a repeat of the situation we saw in Bolton, where people behind bars or in kitchens were basically told from one day to the next that they had no job to go to or local furlough scheme to fall back on."
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said the looming lockdown would be “devastating” to the local economy.
He told The Sun: “Retail and hospitality absolutely rely on the three months in the run up to Christmas to see them through the next nine months of trading.
“Killing their trade at this time of year will have a huge impact."
He said: “There is no evidence that this works — absolutely none whatsoever.”
Tory MPs are threatening to work with Labour to defeat the Government next week in a Commons vote on the 10pm pub curfew.
The UK reported 14,162 new Covid cases and 70 deaths yesterday.
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