The government has extended lockdown restrictions in Liverpool, just days after sweeping new rules were imposed in the North East.
In a statement to the House of Commons, health secretary Matt Hancock announced restrictions would be extended to the Liverpool city region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesborough.
Hancock said people could no longer mix with other households, including in pubs and restaurants, in a bid to curb the spread of infection.
“For your loved ones, for your community, and for your country, follow the rules and do your bit to keep this virus under control”, Hancock said.
Cases in Merseyside are averaging 268 per 100,000 people, more than four times the England average.
Steve Rotherham, the metro mayor of the Liverpool city region, warned on Wednesday that Merseyside’s public finances were at “breaking point” and needed a “comprehensive package of financial support”.
New restrictions banning people from mixing with other households in the North East came into force on Wednesday.
It had been illegal for two households to mix inside or in a garden, but it was only guidance that they should not meet at public venues.
Now nearly 2m people in the North East face being fined up to £6,400 if they mix with other households indoors.
In a Downing Street briefing on Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister said new measures to tackle the sharp rise in infections “will take time to feed through”.
He warned that the country is at a “critical moment” and said he would not hesitate to impose further restrictions if needed.
And as the prospect of a national lockdown loom, reports suggest ministers are set to hold talks next week over plans to introduce lockdown measures in London.
Just six of London’s 32 boroughs currently have infection rates below the threshold of 20 cases per 100,000 used by the government to introduce quarantine measures on other countries.