Restaurants and bars in the north of England could be forced to shut next week in a tightening of coronavirus restrictions.
The BBC reports that a final decision on the length and extent of potential closures has not yet be made, but a formal announcement is expected on Monday.
It comes ahead of the expected introduction of a ‘three-tier' local lockdown system, which would see parts of the country placed into different categories with varied rules.
Areas of the north-east and north-west of England, as well as Birmingham and Leicester, are already under tighter restrictions following a spike in coronavirus infections, but there are no more stringent restrictions on hospitality venues beyond the national 10pm curfew.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday a rise in infections was "not good news" for the hospitality industry.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, tweeted: "If this is anywhere near being considered then govt must simultaneously announce support measures to go alongside - return to full furlough and grants - otherwise this will be catastrophic. Hospitality businesses in north have far lower footfall so link to infection questionable."
Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted: "No discussion. No consultation. Millions of lives affected by Whitehall diktat. It is proving impossible to deal with this Government."
It follows a significant tightening of measures in Scotland, with all pubs and restaurants in the central belt forced to close from Friday. Venues across the rest of the country have been hit with a 6pm curfew and cannot serve alcohol indoors.
A similar shutdown in parts of England would come just weeks before the furlough scheme is due to end on 31 October. UKHospitality previously warned that around one million hospitality jobs were at risk without further support.
Questions are being raised over the basis of targeted restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars, with Keir Starmer calling on the government to release the scientific reasoning behind the 10pm curfew.
The number of UK coronavirus cases rose by 14,162 on Wednesday, with a further 70 reported deaths.