BOLTON could face tough new coronavirus restrictions – including the possible closure of pubs and restaurants – just days after having harsher measures relaxed, it has emerged.

Swathes of northern England are facing a new lockdown amid fears the disease is spiralling out of control.

Ministers are said to be considering the new measures, which could come as early as Monday, as infection rates continue to soar in cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Bolton, Bury and Burnley were singled out by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in Parliament yesterday, as he challenged the Prime Minister on the Government's handling of the crisis in northern towns. 

The move, if confirmed, would be another body blow for the hard-pressed hospitality industry - no more so in Bolton where pubs and restaurants were only just allowed to reopen last week.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly finalising a package of financial support for the sector, amid fears of a fresh wave of job losses.

Downing Street and the Department of Health and Social Care both declined to comment on the reports.

But Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham last night tweeted: “No discussion. No consultation. Millions of lives affected by Whitehall diktat. It is proving impossible to deal with this Government.”

Tory backbenchers warned MPs must be given a vote before any such measures are brought into force in line with assurances given last week by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The latest moves come after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a further tightening of restrictions in Scotland from 6pm on Friday.

Under the new rules, indoor hospitality venues will only be allowed to operate between 6am and 6pm daily, selling food and non-alcoholic drinks only, while outdoor bars will be allowed to serve alcohol until 10pm.

In the five regions with the highest number of cases – including Glasgow and Edinburgh – licensed premises will have to shut for a 16-day period, although they can offer takeaway services.

In England, Nottingham looks set to be the latest area to face new restrictions following a surge in infections.

The prospect of new measures comes amid growing unrest over the existing controls – including among Conservative MPs.

Tory rebels are threatening to try to overturn the 10pm curfew in an expected Commons vote next week, amid claims that it is proving counterproductive in health terms while further damaging the already weakened economy.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Sir Keir challenged Boris Johnson to produce the science behind the curfew, raising the prospect of a Government defeat if Labour joins the rebels in the division lobbies.

Labour also highlighted that 19 out of 20 areas in England under restrictions for two months had reported increasing infection rates:

Bolton, which has been under restrictions since 30 July, where the infection rate has increased almost 13 times from 20 per 100,000 people to 255.

Burnley, which has been under restrictions since 31 July, has an infection rate that has risen from 21 per 100,000 people to 434.

Bury, which has been under restrictions since 31 July, has an infection rate of 266 per 100,000 people, up from 20.

The Labour leader said: “The prime minister really needs to understand that local communities are angry and frustrated. So will he level with the people of Bury, Burnley and Bolton and tell them what does he actually think the problem is here?”

Mr Johnson hit back, saying Labour had failed to back a vote overnight to approve the rule of six.

He said: “What we are doing is a combination of national and local measures which one week he comes to the house to support and the next he decides to whisk away. That’s not new leadership, that’s no leadership.”

The latest official figures showed that as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 14,162 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and that a further 70 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

In the Commons, Mr Johnson acknowledged that cases were rising – not just in northern England – and called for a “concerted national effort” to combat the virus.

“I wish I could pretend that everything was going to be rosy in the Midlands or indeed in London where, alas, we are also seeing infections rise,” he told MPs.

“That is why we need a concerted national effort, we need to follow the guidance.”