Coronavirus is getting out of control in the north of England, a minister has said, as she defended government plans to bring in new restrictions.
Gillian Keegan, minister for skills and apprenticeships, said the country was in an unbelievably serious situation.
But she acknowledged that communication with areas facing new measures needed to be clearer.
It comes as Sir Keir Starmer called for local leaders to be “in the room” and included in local lockdown decisions.
The Labour leader accused the government of operating under the misguided, arrogant and counterproductive view that Whitehall knows best.
In response, a government source said Mr Starmer should be supporting measures to protect the NHS and save lives – instead of playing politics in the middle of a global pandemic.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to set out details of financial support linked to new coronavirus restrictions later.