More areas of England could be placed under tougher coronavirus restrictions when the Health Secretary outlines changes to tiers on Wednesday.
Matt Hancock will address the recalled House of Commons after MPs have passed key legislation on the post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.
A decision is expected to be made at a meeting of the Government’s Covid-19 Operations committee on Tuesday evening, to be chaired by Boris Johnson.
With case rates rising in all regions of England, as well as the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals, any changes are likely to involve areas moving up a tier rather than down.
Some parts of the East Midlands, such as Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, could be moved up from Tier 3 to Tier 4, while other counties such as Lincolnshire and Derbyshire may stay in Tier 3.
All the areas within the West Midlands metropolitan county – Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton – might be facing a move from Tier 3 to 4.
Hartlepool in north-east England, along with a handful of areas in Lancashire – Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley – could also be upgraded from Tier 3 to 4.
Cumbria might be moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3, as could Worcestershire and North Yorkshire.
Pressure has been mounting on ministers to expand Tier 4 restrictions in the face of increasing strain on hospitals in England where the number of patients has surpassed the April peak of the first wave.