Heath Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out the possibility of a second national lockdown for England.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What did the Health Secretary say?
Speaking on Sky News on Friday morning (September 18), Mr Hancock said that bringing in another national lockdown would be “the last line of defence”.
When asked about the possibility of a two-week imposition of national restrictions to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Hancock told Sky News: “A national lockdown is the last line of defence and we want to use local action.”
He added: “I want to avoid a national lockdown.”
Pressed on the possibility of a national lockdown, Matt Hancock said: “It isn’t something that we ever take off the table, but it isn’t something that we want to see either.
“The country once again needs to come together and recognise 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.”
What else did Mr Hancock say?
Matt Hancock added: “The contact tracing system, which is working very well, that is the second line of defence.
“After that, these local lockdowns.
“And the last line of defence is for national action.
“And, I don’t want to see that. But we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very difficult pandemic.”
Asked how close a new national lockdown could be, Mr Hancock said: “We keep all of these things under review.”
On Covid tests, the Health Secretary said: “This week over 200,000 a day are being done.”
‘Total number of people in lockdown across the UK rises above 10 million’
Meanwhile, tough new measures to control the spread of coronavirus have come into effect in the north-east of England, taking the total number of people across the UK in lockdown to more than 10 million.
The new restrictions cover Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham and began at midnight (September 18).
Residents are banned from socialising in homes or gardens with people outside their own households or support bubble, food and drink venues are restricted to table service only and leisure and entertainment venues must close at 10pm.
The changes run alongside the England-wide six-person limit on social gatherings.
It takes the total number of people under in areas under additional restrictions across the UK to more than 10 million, covering parts of Scotland, south Wales, the north west and north east of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands.
The new lockdown measures come amid reports that tougher restrictions are expected to be imposed on Lancashire.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Labour warned months ago that unless the Government spent the summer fixing the testing regime then we would face a bleak winter.
“The Government ignored that advice, the testing regime is collapsing and so it is not surprising national restrictions are back on the table.”
Meanwhile, the Government is expected to announce tighter restrictions on care home visits in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases.
Care homes in areas subject to local lockdowns may be advised to temporarily restrict visits in all but end-of-life situations, it is understood.
For parts of the country where there is no local lockdown, but where community transmission is a cause for concern, an option officials are considering is advising that visits are restricted to one designated visitor per resident.
The Government will set out further details on Friday in its social care action plan to help fight the spread of coronavirus over winter.