Northerners rage at 'dictator' Boris Johnson for using them as a 'petri dish' ...

Boris Johnson (pictured) is set to ignore critics and impose Tier Three restrictions - the highest level of a new alert system - in Covid-hit areas of the north

Boris Johnson (pictured) is set to ignore critics and impose Tier Three restrictions - the highest level of a new alert system - in Covid-hit areas of the north

Boris Johnson faced fury from Northerners and a massing Tory revolt today after it emerged he will plunge 10million people in Covid hotspots into even tougher lockdown restrictions next week, shutting pubs and restaurants.

The PM has signed off a new 'traffic light' system of curbs for England after days of bitter wrangling between ministers and scientists, with a swathe of the country where infections have been surging facing the the harshest Tier Three level.  

The mechanism for classifying 'red' zones are still unclear, but they are expected to cover Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle - three cities that have continued to see infection rises despite local lockdowns. 

Hospitality businesses are set to be shut under the new measures, but shops, offices and schools will stay open.

Ministers are still mulling the fate of hairdressers and leisure facilities - but there will be special furlough-style compensation for workers and firms hammered by the curbs.

However, there is speculation the PM could have to back down on the blanket 10pm pubs curfew - which critics say is making matters worse - to get the plans through Parliament. Conservative MPs and local leaders in the North have been venting fury about the government's stance, with former minister Jake Berry accusing the premier of being 'London-centric' and enjoying his sweeping emergency powers 'a little bit too much'.

Politicians in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield raged at 'diktats announced without notice' and accused ministers of treating the North like a 'petri dish for experimentation' while the South gets off lightly.  

There have been bitter complaints about a North-South divide, with the country starkly split by infection levels and southerners facing far looser controls on everyday life. 

The Westminster government is still fighting to avoid a blanket nationwide lockdown similar to that dramatically announced by Nicola Sturgeon yesterday. However, the North will be subject to the same sort of restrictions as in Scotland, where for 16 days pubs and bars are being banned from serving alcohol indoors and must shut by 6pm. In large areas north of the border hospitality venues are being told to shut altogether from tomorrow.

As the coronavirus crisis looks set to escalate again today:

The leader of Nottingham council leader has voiced alarm at the delay in announcing tighter restrictions to control a surge in the area until the traffic light system is announced on Monday. Labour's David Mellen said he feared people would have a 'blow out' weekend in expectation of the crackdown;  Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of sentencing thousands of businesses to 'death' by imposing a draconian shutdown of pubs and restaurants in Scotland; Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick refused to cite scientific evidence for the 10pm pubs curfew, merely saying it was 'commonsensical';  Mr Jenrick hinted that the government could soon urge workers to wear masks in offices, saying the idea had 'benefits' and would be considered by the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty; A leading scientist has voiced alarm at speculation people could be reinfected with coronavirus, saying that could mean the problem is around 'forever'; 

The Scottish government's figures suggest that hospitality has been a driver of infections over the past week

The Scottish government's figures suggest that hospitality has been a driver of infections over the past week

The Scottish government's latest slides show the growing coronavirus case rate north of the border

The Scottish government's latest slides show the growing coronavirus case rate north of the border

Figures tracking the crucial R number for the virus also show an alarming increase since September

Figures tracking the crucial R number for the virus also show an alarming increase since September 

The UK is recording more coronavirus cases relative to the size of its population than the US for the first time since March, data shows. There were 143 cases per million people on October 5, compared to America's rate of 130 per million

The UK is recording more coronavirus cases relative to the size of its population than the US for the first time since March, data shows. There were 143 cases per million people on October 5, compared to America's rate of 130 per million

Labour listed 21 areas where the case rate had increased since local lockdowns. However, the party accepted that in Leicester cases had been higher shortly before the restrictions were imposed than after, and so did not include it in the overall tally. Leicester and Oadby & Wigston were counted as one in the final total because they were originally treated as one area when the government brought in the restrictions

Cabinet divisions led to a delay in the introduction of the new three-tier system, with the overhaul originally set to be introduced today.  

Chancellor Rishi Sunak and other 'hawks' alarmed about the impact on the economy clashed with 'doves' Matt Hancock and Michael Gove over elements of the plan.

Mr Sunak and Business Secretary Alok Sharma pushed for more clarity about the triggers for lockdown and argued that more social distancing restrictions should not be uniformly applied across regions.

On the other hand, Mr Hancock and Mr Gove argued that allowing even minor flexibility would undermine the effort to clarify the public health message. 

A meeting on Monday broke up without agreement - but the PM signed off on the new 'traffic light' arrangements along with a compensation package last night. 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick came close to confirming this morning that action is looming on pubs and restaurants. 

'It is correct to say the number of cases in the North West and the North East and a number of cities, particularly in the Midlands like Nottingham, are rising fast and that is a serious situation,' he said.

'We are currently considering what steps we should take, obviously taking the advice of our scientific and medical advisers, and a decision will be made shortly.

'But I'm not able to give you right now exactly what is going to happen.'

Asked if there will be an announcement linked to the hospitality trade next week, Mr Jenrick said: 'We are considering the evidence. In some parts of the country, the number of cases are rising very fast and we are taking that very seriously.

'If we do have to take further steps, then obviously we will take very seriously how we can help and support those individual businesses.'    

The Chancellor is thought to have won the right to be consulted before businesses in the hospitality sector are shut down because of the implications for public spending. 

Red Wall rage at PM's lockdown in the North 

The extent of anger among Tories - and crucially MPs from the 'Red Wall' of former Labour seats that delivered Mr Johnson his stunning majority in December - was on display last night as the Commons debated the local restrictions. 

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry, who was Northern Powerhouse minister under Theresa May,  said: 'I think the Government has fallen into that fatal trap of making national decisions based on a London-centric view with London data.'

He raised concerns over liberties and freedoms adding: 'Day by day we see those liberties and freedoms being given away back to the Government in the name of Covid.

'I'm afraid that has to stop, because once we give these up they will not come back to us, the Government will not return them to us.'

He added: 'The worst of society is the Government enjoying these new powers a little bit too much.

'Police officers fining people for being in their front gardens, a bizarre ban on sunbathing on your own in public open spaces.'

Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwhich Dr Kieran Mullan called for the Government to 'work harder' at proving its policies are evidence-based and effective.

Dehenna Davison, who took the Bishop Auckland constituency into Tory hands for the first time in history, highlighted the difficulties for a pub landlord who made his premises Covid-secure but has seen his takings fall dramatically.

Ms Davison said: 'Last weekend he told me rather than his usual Saturday take of £5,000 to £6,000, he took only £128 all day – not even enough to cover his entire staffing bill.

'Between the 10 o'clock curfew and the lack of households being able to meet, I'm really concerned these restrictions without additional financial support may have the overall impact of closing pubs not just for lockdown but for good.'

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One source told The Times: 'There's been unease about the way decisions are happening. It's opaque. Rishi was pushing for clearer lines.'

The extent of anger among Tories - and crucially MPs from the 'Red Wall' of former Labour seats that delivered Mr Johnson his stunning majority in December - was on display last night as the Commons debated the local restrictions. 

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry, who was Northern Powerhouse minister under Theresa May,  said: 'I think the Government has fallen into that fatal trap of making national decisions based on a London-centric view with London data.'

He raised concerns over liberties and freedoms adding: 'Day by day we see those liberties and freedoms being given away back to the Government in the name of Covid.

'I'm afraid that has to stop, because once we give these up they will not come back to us, the Government will not return them to us.'

He added: 'The worst of society is the Government enjoying these new powers a little bit too much.

'Police officers fining people for being in their front gardens, a bizarre ban on sunbathing on your own in public open spaces.'

Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwhich Dr Kieran Mullan called for the Government to 'work harder' at proving its policies are evidence-based and effective.

Dehenna Davison, who took the Bishop Auckland constituency into Tory hands for the first time in history, highlighted the difficulties for a pub landlord who made his premises Covid-secure but has seen his takings fall dramatically.

Ms Davison said: 'Last weekend he told me rather than his usual Saturday take of £5,000 to £6,000, he took only £128 all day – not even enough to cover his entire staffing bill.

'Between the 10 o'clock curfew and the lack of households being able to meet, I'm really concerned these restrictions without additional financial support may have the overall impact of closing pubs not just for lockdown but for good.'

Liverpool's Labour mayor Steve Rotheram told ITV's GMB programme: 'What we've seen is an ever-widening North-South divide in measures being taken. 

'Quite simply the North should not be a petri dish for experimentation by central government.' 

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: 'No discussion. No consultation. 

'Millions of lives affected by Whitehall diktat. It is proving impossible to deal with this Government.' 

UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod today warned that many businesses won't survive the new restrictions on hospitality and licensed trade north of the border and said tens of thousands of jobs will be lost. 

And Kate Nicholls, CEO of the association in England, urged the government to consider 'more substantive support'. 

She told BBC Radio 4: 'In Scotland £40million between 16,000 licenced premises equates to just over £2,000 for those people. It barely keeps the lights on let alone saves a job.'

Despite the drastic action on the table, Mr Johnson is facing a desperate battle to stop MPs rejecting the existing 10pm curfew rules across England.

Up to 100 Tory MPs are threatening to vote against the measure, with the government already having delayed the showdown from this week.

The prospect of a government defeat came closer yesterday when Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded more evidence on the effectiveness of the curfew, suggesting his party could oppose it.

Asked for evidence to back up the policy this morning, Mr Jenrick told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was 'common sense'.

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'There is evidence that it plays a role. It is commonsensical that, with a virus that's transmitted through human contact, the longer one spends with individuals in indoor settings, in a pub or a restaurant, the more likely it is that we spread the virus.'

Asked if the Government would publish scientific evidence regarding the spread of Covid-19 in the hospitality sector, the Housing Secretary said: 'It is commonsensical that the longer you stay in pubs and restaurants, the more likely you are to come into contact with other individuals.

'The more drinks that people have, the more likely that some people are to break the rules.

'There is evidence guided by the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Officer.

'I think it is right that we take action decisively, rather than waiting for the most detailed epidemiological evidence to emerge.'

To add to the mix of messages, Mr Johnson's faces anger from city leaders in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, as well as Leeds, who wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday urging him not to impose tougher measures.

But the pressure to do so mounted substantially yesterday when Ms Sturgeon announced similar two-week restriction in Scotland. Health Secretary Matt Hancock also hinted England could follow Scotland's lead in imposing tougher restrictions and pub closures in Covid-hit cities.

However former Cabinet minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith warned Mr Johnson there would be a major Tory rebellion if he copied Ms Sturgeon's lockdown plans.

He told the Sun: 'There is no evidence that this works- absolutely none whatsoever.

'What there is evidence for is this will cripple the economy and lead to more deaths, as has already been demonstrated from non-Covid issues. It's time to get some balance and save our economy.'

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges which represents the UK and Ireland's 24 medical royal colleges, said that people need to strictly follow restrictions or the NHS could be 'unable to cope'.  

She told BBC Breakfast: 'Given the recent dramatic spike in both the number of cases and hospital admissions it is clear that we could soon be back to where we were in April if we are not all extremely careful.' 

In another warning, she revealed that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 over the past month has increased from a 'few hundred people per day' to 'thousands'.

She said: 'So right now, we have got over 3,100 people in hospital with coronavirus around the UK. Actually 500 of those are in ITU (Intensive Therapy Unit) beds, that's really worrying.

'A month ago we only had 60 people in the whole of the UK in ITU beds.So we are seeing a very worrying trend at the moment.' 

Ms Sturgeon made the announcement of the new measures yesterday as she warned cases have started to surge among the older generation as she banned pubs and restaurants from serving alcohol indoors in Scotland for at least 16 days from Friday.

The First Minister told MSPs at Holyrood that the situation was 'better than March', but admitted she needed to take a 'backward step' as she unveiled a dramatic 'circuit breaker' squeeze to coincide with the school half-term north of the border.

As well as a ban on serving alcohol, hospitality venues will only be allowed to open from 6am to 6pm as Ms Sturgeon said without the crackdown the virus could be 'out of control by the end of this month'. 

But in five 'hotspot' areas in Scotland's central belt, which includes Edinburgh and Glasgow and is home to approximately 70 per cent of the population, pubs will be closed altogether apart from takeaways until October 26 and people will be advised against using public transport. 

Mr Hancock appeared to pave the way for a similar localised crackdown on pubs in England as he said that 'outside your household and socialising between households, the highest place in incidence of likely transmission, measured by where people have contacts, is unfortunately hospitality'. 

However, a targeted shutdown of hospitality venues in hotspot areas appears more likely than a nationwide approach, with Downing Street still committed to its strategy of local lockdowns in specific areas where the virus has spiked.      

Imposing some of the toughest restrictions in Europe, Ms Sturgeon said that if it was 'a purely one dimensional decision' about tackling the disease there would be even harsher action, but she was considering the wider economy and wellbeing.

But it provoked howls of protest from the hospitality industry, who branded the clampdown a 'total catastrophe' and warned a swathe of business will go under permanently. 

The extraordinary step - which Ms Sturgeon said would be accompanied with £40million of new compensation for stricken firms - came as Scotland reported more than 1,000 new infections in a day.

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured yesterday) has unveiled a dramatic 'circuit breaker' squeeze to coincide with the school half-term north of the border

Nicola Sturgeon (pictured yesterday) has unveiled a dramatic 'circuit breaker' squeeze to coincide with the school half-term north of the border

In another drastic move that could pre-empt policy in England, national exams in Scotland are also being abandoned for next year and replaced with teacher assessments. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is currently only expected to delay the exam season south of the border by three weeks. 

Ms Sturgeon's announcement heaped pressure on Mr Johnson, who was confronted yesterday with damning figures showing local restrictions in England are failing to curb cases, with ministers and advisers at war over what to do next.

At a stormy PMQs session, Mr Johnson stressed the impact of the surge was being felt worst in the North, saying that showed that the Government's mix of tough local lockdowns and national restrictions like the Rule of Six and 10pm pubs curfew was the right one.

The backing for 'differentiated' measures in England indicates that the premier is still resisting calls from scientists for a blanket crackdown - in an apparent boost for Cabinet ministers alarmed over the threat to millions of jobs and civil liberties.

But Labour leader Keir Starmer launched a furious attack on Mr Johnson in the Commons, saying 19 out of 20 areas subjected to local curbs over the past two months have actually seen infections rise. He insisted that the measures were 'not working', and singled out the controversial 10pm curfew on pubs saying the government had failed to provide any 'scientific basis'.  

Under the new system, Tier One will be the basic restrictions as they are now across Britain, including the Rule of Six and the

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