Leaders in Greater Manchester have said the region should not be put in toughest Tier 3 of coronavirus measures, while in Lancashire the council chief has said the extra restrictions are “inevitable”.
The Liverpool City Region (LCR) is the only area of England to have been given the strictest set of measures so far, but Government health officials are expected to have discussions with councillors in Greater Manchester and Lancashire over whether to classify the areas as “very high”.
In a joint statement, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and the leaders of the 10 local authorities in the region insisted the area should remain in Tier 2 as the rate of infection and the hospital admission rate were lower than in the Liverpool City Region (LCR).
But in Lancashire, county council leader Geoff Driver warned hospital admissions would reach the level they were at the height of the first wave within three weeks if measures were not brought in.
The infection rate in the Liverpool City Region is 488 cases per 100,000 people, with 7,609 cases recorded in the seven days to October 10.
In Greater Manchester the rate is 357.6 per 100,000, with 10,140 new cases reported, and in the county of Lancashire the rate is 310.7 per 100,000, with 4,689 cases recorded in the week up to October 10.
Leaders in Greater Manchester said the evidence did not support placing the region into a higher tier.
They said: “Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust seven-day rolling average Covid patients in beds is at around the 225 mark and in Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust it’s at the 100 mark.
“Second, the financial package accompanying Tier 3 is nowhere near sufficient to prevent severe hardship, widespread job losses and business failure.”
They believe, if cases continued to rise and more economic support was not provided, a national circuit-break would be a preferable option.
The Manchester leaders added: “If the Government pursues its current strategy, we believe it will leave large parts of the north of England trapped in Tier 3 for much of the winter with all the damage that will do.”
Conservative Lancashire County Council leader Mr Driver told BBC Breakfast he did not feel the county was being “railroaded” into the introduction of stricter measures but more resources would be needed to deal with the economic impact.
He said: “With the high rates of infection in most parts of the county area it’s inevitable we’re going to move into Tier 3.
“It’s really a question of when and how, and we’re working with Government trying to put together a package of measures that will mitigate the inevitable impact on that particular sector of the economy.”
He added: “If we don’t take proper measures now, within three weeks the hospitals in Lancashire will be having the same admissions for Covid as they did at the height of the first wave.
“If we don’t take those measures now, in another couple of weeks after that we could be double the admissions that were occurring at the height of the peak in March and April, so we really do have to take measures.
“Just closing the pubs and bars will not in itself bring the virus infection rate down.”
Property adviser Altus Group said 3,096 pubs and bars, 375 betting shops, 475 gyms and 15 casinos would close if Greater Manchester and Lancashire were subject to the stricter restrictions.