New restrictions on social contact have been announced in the Liverpool city region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, banning different households from meeting in indoor hospitality venues.

Restrictions of this type are already in place in large parts of Wales and northern England including Newcastle and Northumberland.

Meanwhile, pubs in Bolton will be allowed to reopen after almost a month closed.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the new rules are necessary, and would be in place for “as short a time as possible”.

He added that £7m funding would be provided to support areas affected.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson told the BBC: “It’s a strange one because it seems to be a halfway house.

“The infection rate is basically out of control…the businesses, the bars, the hotels, the restaurants, those are the people that are employed by the hospitality sector. Thousands of them are going to close and potentially won’t come back.”

He said funding announced was a “drop in the ocean” and he was “deeply, deeply worried” about businesses.

Anderson, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and council leaders from Liverpool City Region, also released a joint statement, where they described the restrictions as “a hammer blow” to the region’s economy.

Recognising that restrictions were necessary to control rising infections, the statement added: “Our region is an international destination, and our visitor economy is worth almost £5bn to the city region economy every year, employing over 50,000 people. Over recent years, our hospitality and retail industries have been vibrant and growing.

“But, in the last six months, we have already seen many of these businesses go under in the face of Covid-19 and, without Government assistance over the past few months, many more would have followed.”

Dan Davies, CEO of Wirral-based Rockpoint Leisure, described the latest measures as a “massive step backwards” and “completely ill thought out”.

He told the Morning Advertsier: “We’ve got two issues here, one is the 10pm which is woefully inadequate in the first place, and the other one is obviously these latest extra restrictions for us here. This makes what is already a very very difficult job near impossible and it’s not based on any, I don’t think, facts.”

Davies, whose private-sector development and regeneration company has sought to revive Wirral Peninsula town New Brighton’s Victoria Quarter, says that Rockpoint’s projects “won’t be possible” under the current circumstances.

He added: “Even locking the places down at 10pm we’ve got four places trading now – a pub, a restaurant, a bar and an art gallery with a bar in it. All of them are licensed until 12pm. We’re losing hours every night off those venues and yet we can’t drop our staff numbers, if anything we’ve had more staff on with the measures. It just makes it totally unviable.

“The industry is in a fight for its survival anyway and we’ve got Christmas, potentially a bad winter coming up. This will just knock a whole host of businesses completely out of business.”