Tighter social restrictions could be imposed if coronavirus infections continue to rise, a minister has suggested.
Helen Whately said “we don’t want to” bring in measures taking the UK back towards a second national lockdown but cautioned the government is keeping a “constant eye” on COVID-19 cases.
Asked on Sky News’ Kay Burley show what changes people should prepare for, the social care minister pointed to the rules banning household mixing in parts of northwest and northeast England.
It follows a report in The Times that a “total social lockdown” could be enforced across much of northern Britain and London – with all pubs and restaurants ordered to shut for two weeks.
Households would also be banned from meeting each in other in any indoor location, but schools, shops and offices would remain open.
The newspaper quoted a senior government source as saying the nation and Conservative MPs weren’t “ready” for such action but it “will have to come”.
Ms Whately did not deny the plan is being considered.
“We have an opportunity – a choice – as a country to get this back under control again,” she said.
“This is our moment in time to make sure we’re doing social distancing and the rule of six. That’s how we control it.”
Ms Whately also called a video of Liverpool residents seemingly partying and not social distancing after pubs closed at 10pm “worrying”, as tougher fines come into force for anyone caught not self-isolating who should be.
The latest figures released on Sunday show there were 5,693 new coronavirus cases in the UK and a further 17 people who died within 28 days of testing positive.
Higher daily infections were reported earlier in the week – including the highest on record across the country.
Experts warn case numbers will be higher given testing capacity has been dramatically increased compared to the spring.