Speculation is rising that Boris Johnson will order a shutdown of pubs and restaurants in northern England on Monday, according to a report in the Times.

It said the prime minister “signed off” the regional lockdown as well as agreeing a new support package for affected businesses and a new “simplified” system of lockdown restrictions.

It reports that “Merseyside and other parts of northern England” will see pubs, restaurants and cafés forced to close but schools and universities will remain open.

It added that “Whitehall sources” had said the support package will be more generous that the measures outlined in the Winter Economy Plan.