Government sources said the Prime Minister was anxious to make sure police in Tier 3 areas enforced restrictions after current measures failed to reverse infection rates in hotspots.
He added: 'I'd much rather not impose things, I'd much rather that we were able to work out something together with local authorities, with the mayor in Manchester'.
Another one and a half million people in England will be living under the strictest coronavirus restrictions from tomorrow, as the whole of Lancashire is moved into tier 3.
Revealing that a deal had not been reached between No 10 and the region's leaders, Mr Johnson said time was "of the essence" for action to be taken. Each day that passes before action is taken means more people will go to hospital, more people will end up in intensive care and tragically more people will die.
The decision is accompanied by a support package for Lancashire to help minimise the impact on businesses and residents.
Lancashire joins Liverpool City Region in the highest level of Covid restrictions.
'Inconsistent mess, we now have Tier 3 A and Tier 3 B'.
However, there was anger in Liverpool that it has been made to close down gyms and leisure centres, while they can stay open in Lancashire.
Metro Mayor of the Liverpool Region, Steve Rotheram said on Twitter: "The Tier system was meant to be offer simplicity and uniformity".
Boris Johnson backed down from imposing Tier 3 Covid restrictions in Manchester amid fears police would not enforce them without Andy Burnham's backing.
He ended his tweet with '#shambles'.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission for the whole of the United Kingdom is between 1.3 and 1.5.
It comes as Boris Johnson said he would resist another national lockdown "if at all possible" as he comes under pressure to impose a short "circuit-breaker" across the country.
They said: "We are not convinced that closing hospitality venues is the only way to protect hospitals, and we want to look at other measures such as reinstating shielding arrangements and introducing tough instant closure powers on non-compliant pubs, restaurants, shops and other business premises".
'Without action there is no doubt that our NHS would soon be struggling to treat the sheer number of people seriously ill with Covid.