Areas in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humber could have been placed into the highest tier 3 category, but local council leaders held out against the designation.

Boris Johnson appealed to local leaders to work with the government to agree the terms of the lockdown in the days ahead.

The prime mister warned northern leaders that a failure to agree tougher coronavirus restrictions would be “unforgivable”.

The Liverpool city region agreed the terms of its tier 3 level, which include additional measures such as the closure of gyms and bookmakers.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said the tier 3 level alone would not be enough to tackle the spread, hence the reason for flexibility in this tier for local authorities.

The prime minister said: “What’s encouraging today is we’ve got people like Steve Rotheram [metro mayor, Liverpool city region] stepping up with strong local leadership. I think if we can get that over the next few days across the country in the areas where we’ve got a high incidence that will make a huge, huge difference.”

He added: “If we can’t get agreement, then clearly it is the duty of national government to take the necessary action to protect the public.”

Most areas currently under local intervention will be at high, with the addition of Nottinghamshire, east and west Cheshire, and High Peak

Economic support will be expanded to assist those affected, the PM said.

Businesses forced to close will be provided with a cash grant of up to £3,000 a month.

There will also be extra funding for those in the very high category for local test and trace and enforcement.

For those entering tier 3, there will be up to £500m provided to fund activities, enforcement, compliance and contact tracing.

An extra £1.3bn of funding will go towards the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland administrations if they choose to do something similar.