Millions of people could be banned from indoor and outdoor mixing, and thousands of pubs could close due to new coronavirus restrictions due to be announced Monday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will outline a new three-tier system of restrictions, the measures of which will lead to the closure of pubs and restaurants in the north of England.
There are also reports that no household mix is allowed under the top tier, which could affect millions of people in areas with high Covid-19 rates across England.
Leaders across northern England criticized the plans, accusing the government of treating the region as “second rate” and not ruling out possible legal action.
However, the Sunday Times reported that ministers were preparing proposals to give town halls more authority over the testing and tracing system to try to secure their support.
Meanwhile, people could be seen in the UK’s city centers – including Liverpool, Newcastle and London – on Saturday night before pubs in their areas may close.
It comes from the fact that the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus rose in all parts of England on Saturday – from 725 the previous week to 1,167 in the northwest.
Another 15,166 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were reported on Saturday, and 81 more deaths were confirmed in people who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.
Separate figures released by the UK statistical authorities show that 58,000 deaths have now been recorded in the UK with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.
Under the proposed three-tier system, different parts of the country would be divided into different categories, with areas at the highest level likely to be subject to the toughest restrictions.
Tees Valley Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen said the third stage restrictions are expected to apply in four-week blocks. Pubs and bars will have to close, and a mix of households will not be allowed to socialize indoors or outdoors.
Real estate consultant Altus Group has indicated that there are 7,171 pubs in restricted areas in the north of England that are at risk of temporary closure.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Friday that workers in companies forced to close due to the new restrictions will have the government pay two-thirds of their wages.
However, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that acceptance of Mr Sunak’s financial package would be to “hand over” the people to need before Christmas.
Speaking at a press conference with political leaders from Liverpool, Sheffield and Tyneside on Saturday, Burnham said the measures risk “serious layoffs” and business closings.
Mr Burnham said the government was treating the north as second rate and not precluding legal action.
He added, “It will flatten the north of England and widen the north-south divide.”
West Yorkshire council leaders also warned Friday that “significantly” more financial assistance was needed to prevent an even deeper economic disaster.
Union leader Sir Keir Starmer also criticized the business aid package, saying the government has “lost sight of the guiding principle” that restrictions are always accompanied by adequate economic support.
However, the Sunday Times reported that plans are being made to empower local executives to deploy an army of volunteer contact tracers and give local authorities more control over mobile test units and walk-in centers.
A government spokeswoman said all financial aid will be reviewed in the coming weeks and months to support businesses and protect jobs.
Meanwhile, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the country is at a tipping point similar to the first wave of the coronavirus but could prevent history from repeating itself.
He said the best way to keep transmission low and prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed is to have people follow instructions on self-isolation, wash their hands, wear face covers, and maintain social distance.
He added, “Earlier this year we were battling a semi-invisible disease that we knew little about and that was spreading rapidly in the community.
“Now we know where it is and how to go about it. Let’s take this opportunity and prevent history from repeating itself.”
In North Wales, new coronavirus restrictions were put in place on Saturday at 6pm in Bangor, meaning people cannot enter or leave the area without a “reasonable excuse” and can only meet people they do not live with outdoors.