Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Merseyside and Wolverhampton will lockdown with ban on seeing friends from Tuesday

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LANCASHIRE, West Yorkshire, Wolverhampton and Merseyside have been handed tough new lockdown rules with a ban on seeing friends from next Tuesday.

Even more Brits face strict local lockdown measures and curfews will be introduced in Lancashire and Merseyside as the number of new coronavirus cases in Liverpool spiralled to 100.6 cases per 100,000.

New cases in Merseyside and Lancashire have spiralled out of control

Matt Hancock announced the new restrictions today

Pubs will have to shut at 10pm over fears the virus is spreading as people forget social distancing

It comes after huge parts of the North East – including Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland were handed stricter local lockdown measures.

Pubs and restaurants in Lancashire, Warrington, Halton and Merseyside will have to close at 10pm from Tuesday.

People will also not be allowed to meet with anyone who is outside their household or support bubble in those areas as well as Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Oadby and Wigston.

But the new rules do not apply to people in Blackpool and Greater Manchester.

Around 10 million people in the UK have to follow tough restrictions.

The rate of coronavirus infections in Warrington has soared to 111.2 per 100,00.

Other areas of Lancashire, including Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Preston are still under local lockdown restrictions with a ban on meeting other households.

It comes as

  • Huge parts of the North East were put under strict local lockdown yesterday with 10pm curfews
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned a new national lockdown could be brought in
  • Mr Hancock gave Brits a stern warning not to skip self isolation by getting tested
  • London could be two weeks away from lockdown with restricted opening hours for pubs and restaurants
  • Hundreds of drinkers hit the town for a last boozy night out before a North East lockdown comes into force today
  • Scores of coronavirus hotspots across the country have emerged in recent weeks

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ““We are seeing cases of coronavirus rise fast in Lancashire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire, Warrington, Halton and Wolverhampton.

“Local leaders in these areas have asked for stronger restrictions to be put in place to protect local people, and we are acting decisively to support them.

“I know these restrictions will make every-day life harder for many, but I know that residents will work together and respect the rules so we can reduce rates of transmission.”

Burnley Mayor Wajid Khan said this morning people in Lancashire will have to get used to tightened rules.

He told Sky News: “About 1 million people in Lancashire could have to not meet up with others indoors, outdoors and possibly some curfews in the nighttime.

“It’s something we have been under before, so we’re just going to have to respond to the Government’s guidelines.

“Unfortunately this is going to have an impact on people’s livelihoods. In the hospitality sector, pubs and clubs and bars, many people are on zero hours contracts.”

Mr Khan said the new rules had to come with “targeted financial support” for people who will be hit hardest by the restrictions.

He urged residents to follow the rules or risk “exacerbating” the problem and causing even further infections.

But Mr Khan demanded the lockdown was backed up by a strong testing regime, after countless stories of people turning up to testing centres and being unable to get a swab.

And as demand for tests rise throughout the country it was not possible to book a slot in Liverpool, Wirral, Bury or Salford today, which are all areas within the top 20 highest infection rates in England.

It comes after he warned that a two week “circuit breaker” national lockdown could be brought in if the new measures, including the country-wide “rule of six”, didn’t work

He admitted local measures had only seen a fall in cases in a handful of areas, and places such as Leicester which had been under local lockdown had seen a rise in cases again.

Curfews are a new tool in the Government’s arsenal to fight coronavirus, over fears the disease is spreading in pubs where people forget about social distancing.

The limited opening hours have already been brought in for the lockdown in the North East.

And in Bolton, where infections have stubbornly refused to fall, pubs and restaurants were forced to return to take-away only.

Schools and workplaces are still able to remain open.

Speaking to Sky’s Kay Burley this morning, Mr Hancock delivered the strongest warning the entire country was looking at a new lockdown.

He said: “The last line of defence is full national action and I don’t want to see that but we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very difficult pandemic.”

He told Times Radio: “The last line of defence is national action.

“I want to avoid that but we can only do that if everybody follows the rules.

“We know that a national lockdown works because it did last time, and we can see in the figures that this is a serious moment.”

He added: “This is a big moment for the country…

“It is the thing we can do to keep people safe if that’s what’s needed.”