A SPECIAL meeting will be held today to discuss whether Lancashire should be reclassified and placed into tier-three of the new coronavirus lockdown system.

It is also understood that the same discussions will be held regarding Greater Manchester, where the prospect of forced gyms, bar and pub closures are also being faced.

Yesterday council leaders from across Lancashire spent hours debating a plan for the new lockdown system after the whole county was placed into tier two on Monday.

County Council leader Geoff Driver has said it is 'inevitable' that Lancashire will be moved from coronavirus tier two restrictions to the highest tier three within days.

It would escalate the current tier two ban on households mixing indoors to cover all outdoor places including gardens and shut leisure centres, betting shops and casinos.

Cllr Driver's gloomy prediction was backed by Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Cllr Mohammed Khan and his Hyndburn counterpart Cllr Miles Parkinson.

But Pendle council boss Cllr Mohammed Iqbal said that tier three restrictions would be wrong for his borough.

Cllr Driver spoke out this afternoon as senior officers from the county, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool Councils negotiated with officials from the Department of Health and Social Care and 10 Downing Street advisers on the precise geography of any new Lancashire restrictions and the shape of a support package for businesses and workers hit by them.

These talks will continue tomorrow morning and, if a deal is struck, it could be ratified at the afternoon 'Gold' meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Committee before going to ministers later or the following morning.

Cllr Driver said last night: "I think it is inevitable that at least part of Lancashire will be moved into tier three.

"Our officials were in talks this afternoon and there will be more talks tomorrow and a meeting of Lancashire Council leaders when necessary.

"We are trying to negotiate the best support package possible for businesses that will close and for the new rules to cover the whole county.

“If you look at the figures for East Lancashire, the infection rates are very scary. I do not know when the new tier three restrictions would be announced or come into force, but I would like to see it as soon as possible.”