The prime minister was locked in talks with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham at lunchtime on Tuesday following a midday deadline for fraught negotiations on whether the city should enter tier 3 restrictions, including pub closures.
Johnson is expected to set out the outcome of the talks at a 5pm press conference alongside England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam and NHS medical director Stephen Powis.
The PM is likely to impose “very high” restrictions on the city, including the closure of pubs unless they serve substantial meals, even if negotiations on financial support for the city’s 2.8m people have not ended in agreement.
The PM’s official spokesperson told reporters: “The talks have been ongoing this morning. I am not in a position to confirm how that has been resolved.”
Any imposition of new lockdown measures is likely to be met with a chorus of disapproval from the city.
Local leaders have argued that existing tier 2 restrictions have not brought cases down for months, and that financial support needs to be scaled up to help people and businesses hit by further lockdown measures.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick in a letter offered £22m to help the city enter tier 3, worth around £8 per person, with “additional support commensurate” with that offered in Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region.
But Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said the government’s offer was an “insult”.
Speaking earlier on Tuesday, Burnham said he would “try to be positive and respond, and see if we can find a way forward” despite the “slightly provocative move” by the government.
“The letter is odd in that it is both an ultimatum but it references potential additional support that could be given to us,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“The thing is, we’ve never been given a figure for that additional support.
“What I’ll be proposing to the Greater Manchester leaders when we meet this morning, quite early, is that we write to the government setting out what we think a fair figure is for that support, given we’ve been under restrictions for three months and that has taken a real toll on people and businesses here.
“The second thing we would need is full flexibility to support the people that we think are going to need to be supported in a tier 3 lockdown.”
But he said he would not break the law if the government imposed the measures on Greater Manchester without the consent of civic leaders.
In his letter, Jenrick had warned there were now “more Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester hospitals than in the whole of the south-west and south-east combined”.
“Despite recognising the gravity of the situation, local leaders have been so far unwilling to take the action that is required to get this situation under control,” he wrote.
“I have written to local leaders this evening to make clear that if we cannot reach agreement by midday [on Tuesday] then I must advise the prime minister that, despite our best endeavours, we’ve been unable to reach agreement.”