Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, who has been in regular contact with Mr Hancock, is understood to believe that additional restrictions in the capital are now highly likely. In practice, that would mean London being put into the “high” tier.

Large parts of northern England have already been hit with a range of additional curbs on social life, including a ban on different households mixing indoors, but the south has largely escaped stricter measures other than the national “rule of six” and the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants.

On Saturday,  Jamie Driscoll, the mayor of North of Tyne, said: “It’s notable that, at the start of this, the whole country was placed in lockdown when cases were at their worst in London. Now that cases are at their worst in the North, we are getting a very different response.”

The three-tier system is meant to clarify the patchwork of rules for England that has evolved since infection rates began to climb again last month, but the proposal to allow local leaders to request hospitality and leisure closures in their areas would lead to a less uniform system than had been expected.

Saturday’s talks, led by Sir Edward Lister, Mr Johnson’s chief strategic adviser, came after Mr Anderson said: “The main point of the imposition of the measures are clearly that – imposition. We have not been consulted.”

Amid discussions about local leaders taking a greater role, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We believe much stronger enforcement powers are what is needed. 

“I’m talking about summary closures powers for premises that are not Covid-secure. And I’m not just talking about pubs or restaurants – I’m talking about shops or any setting where the right procedures are not in place.”

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