A coronavirus “hit squad” will be monitoring a town as it teeters on the edge of a local lockdown.
Middlesborough, in the north east, is at risk of being plunged back under restrictions as Covid-19 cases spiral.
Town Hall bosses have started sending in "hit squads" to check that premises are keeping punters socially distanced after cases surged by 40 in just four days.
Mayor Andy Preston said he feared the town was “on the fringe of something else” as he urged people to act responsibly.
Swathes of the north have been placed under tough lockdown rules as health chiefs try to curb the spread of corona.
Officers in Middlesborough will be carrying out flash checks on pubs and restaurants and can even use legal powers to shut them if they think there’s a risk.
Mr Preston said: "It's never our intention to cause unnecessary alarm, but as a town we need to get a grip of this virus and break the chains of transmission now.
"The problem we have is a scattering of cases from different parts of Middlesbrough that have the potential to grow. It's now beyond urgent that we do all we can to stop the spread.
"Please wear a face covering – for your sake and everyone else's."
It comes after the government u-turned on removing Bolton and Trafford in Manchester from lockdown restrictions.
Local authorities had begged for restrictions to stay in place after infections continued to soar.
The towns were set to be exempt from lockdown rules on Wednesday before health Secretary Matt Hancock changed his mind.
In Middlesborough 14 positive tests were reported on Wednesday, following 12 new cases on Tuesday and eight on Monday, The Mirror reported.
So far three pubs and restaurants have been forced to close in recent days after either customers or staff became infected.
It was revealed that Corby, in Northants, and South Tuneside had seen huge spikes in Covid cases - whilst remaining outside lockdown laws.