Tighter COVID-19 lockdowns could be imposed on London and northern England by the British government on Thursday and Health Secretary Matt Hancock will address parliament, a minister said.
Asked on Sky if Manchester and parts of Lancashire would be placed into tier three, the highest level of local lockdown, junior business minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "Well, as I say, I'm not going to speculate. Matt Hancock is going to make a statement to parliament as to where we are at but you can clearly see the numbers."
Zahawi said the government was also speaking to London Mayor Sadiq Khan who has called for tougher lockdowns in the capital where 11 boroughs are seeing more than 100 new cases a week per 100,000 people.
The worst hit areas of London are Richmond, Hackney and the City of London, Ealing, Redbridge and Harrow.
While the government says it must act to tackle the swiftly accelerating second wave of the outbreak, there is growing concern about the economic and health costs of the poverty that such lockdowns are inflicting.
The United Kingdom faces a "period of destitution" in which families "can't put shoes on" children, the government's former homelessness adviser said.
"Are we actually asking people in places like Liverpool to go out and prostitute themselves, so that they could put food on the table?" Louise Casey told the BBC.
"There's this sense from Downing Street and from Westminster that people will make do. Well, they weren't coping before Covid," she said.