SIGHS of relief felt across the borough earlier today when Bolton avoided stricter lockdown measures could have come too soon.

Boris Johnson has warned that additional areas could be added to the highest tier of restrictions.

The Prime Minister's announcement of the new alert system was riddled with references to Greater Manchester, with Mr Johnson at one point asking members of the opposition to "prevail on the authorities" in the region to come into the "very high" alert level.

After Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed to MPs that Greater Manchester would see restrictions remain as they are, many officials welcomed the news, with Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham calling it the "right decision", saying he was "glad the Government has listened".

Night time economy adviser Sacha Lord expressed his thanks to Mr Burnham, MP Lucy Powell, and the 10 leaders across Greater Manchester who "fought so hard" over the weekend.

However, their joy could be short lived, after Mr Johnson warned regional leaders resisting severe new measures that he could impose restrictions regardless of their objections.

Speaking at the Downing Street press conference on Monday night he said: “It’s absolutely correct to say we’re working with local authorities across the country but particularly with those badly affected regions that everybody knows about in the North West and the North East, Yorkshire, Humber and so on, trying to work with them to support a collective package of measures.

“The offer is there to all local leaders who are facing problems, big increases in the infection rates, we’ll help to support more local test and trace, more local enforcement and so on.

“We stand ready to work with local government at all levels but clearly as national Government we have to think about our primary duty, which is to save life and to protect the NHS and we will also do whatever we think is necessary over the next few days and weeks.

“If we can’t get agreement, then clearly it is the duty of national Government to take the necessary action to protect the public and public health and we will.”

Mr Johnson had previously made reference to "deals" and "options" that were available to leaders, and had been quick to praise Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram for agreeing to the measures.

The Bolton News understands that Mr Johnson and Mr Burnham have been discussing the matter for multiple days, and today's comments could have been an attempt to convince the Greater Manchester official into agreeing to move the region to the higher level.

Mr Johnson promised extra funding, support for local test and trace systems, and assistance from the armed forces to those areas under tier three, months after Mr Burnham started pushing for greater financial support and more power for localised contact tracing systems.