Coronavirus cases are doubling every seven to eight days and the government are considering introducing a second national lockdown, possibly as soon as next week.
Proposals being planned by the government stops short of a full national lockdown that was imposed in March.
New proposals being planned could see essential travel to work and schools remaining, but bars, pubs and restaurants will either close or could be restricted with curfew hours.
Restrictions could be put in place for two weeks to act as a “circuit break” to “hammer down” the virus, otherwise the country could experience figures seen at the start of the pandemic.
The government’s chief scientific advisor and chief medical officer warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday that infections are now doubling, and further warned the UK is around six weeks behind France and Spain.
France and Spain are seeing cases exceeding 10,000 infections daily and the UK could match this by October if urgent measures are not implemented.
A senior minister said this week, “The PM is in a very difficult situation because it all rests on him.
“The instinct of the PM is that he has to keep this virus under control, because if there is a spike, it falls on his shoulders. I do feel for him.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “We’ll do what is necessary to keep people safe. The first line of defence is that everyone should follow the social distancing we’ve talked about many times. Hands, face, space and keep that social distancing.
“The contact-tracing system, that is working very well, and is the second line of the defence.
“After that, these local lockdowns and the last line of defence is for national action. I don’t want to see that but we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very different pandemic.”
He added, “It isn’t something that we ever take off the table but it isn’t something that we want to see either.
“It’s the last line of defence. What I’d say this morning is that the country, once again, needs to come together and recognise that there is a serious challenge, that the virus is accelerating.
“Unfortunately, it isn’t just cases increasing, it’s also the number of people ending up in hospital increasing.
“That’s mainly across the northwest of England but we’ve seen a rise across the northeast and we’re prepared to do what it takes to keep people safe whilst also protecting livelihoods.”