Tighter lockdown rules are set to come in to play in different areas around the country, with more measures also being considered.
It seems the government is poised to issue additional lockdown measures in the north of England and other Covid hotspot areas could soon follow suit.
The news comes as Scotland bans pubs from serving alcohol indoors for a fortnight.
The additional restrictions – which come amid a rising coronavirus rate and warnings from Sage experts that localised measures aren’t working – come in a bid to get a handle on the rising rate of coronavirus cases.
Hospital admissions are increasing, with 59 new deaths reported in the UK today. Seven of those were in the Midlands.
But, according to reports, it is the North East and North West of particular concern to the government.
Ministers have admitted “further action is likely to be needed” in the coming days.
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Pubs and restaurants close
The government is mulling over whether to close hospitality venues – pubs and restaurants – for a period.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Government’s scientific advisory panel who specialises in disease outbreaks, recommended a “circuit breaker” be considered on a national basis in a bid to slow the virus, rather than trying to reduce it at a later stage.
Five health board areas – Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian, and Forth Valley – face stricter restrictions, with pubs and licensed cafes to shut to all but takeaway customers for the same period.
The measures come into force at 6pm on Friday for 16 days until October 25.
Households banned from mixing
The government is also looking at whether to further limit household mixing.
“The numbers in the North are very alarming,” a Whitehall figure told Sky News.
“Discussions are ongoing around when – and if – further measures are needed.
“The worrying thing is the spread of the disease in certain parts of the country is looking like it is getting into the older population a bit more.”
A fully-blown circuit breaker could be imposed for October half-term, with Sage experts telling BBC’s Today programme and Tuesday evening’s Newsnight it should have already happened.
This would not affect the education sector but would mean hospitality is shut, with the retail sector restricted, and people instructed to stay home.
Separate figures show there were 2,944 Covid-19 patients in hospital in England as of Wednesday, up from 1,958 a week ago, while 376 Covid-19 hospital patients were in ventilation beds, up from 281 a week ago.
A total of 472 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in England on Monday, compared with 308 a week earlier.
Prof Semple – a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “perhaps a circuit breaker a couple of weeks ago would have been a really good idea”.
Full second national lockdown indefinitely
A full second national lockdown is now “inevitable” according to Prof John Edmunds, another Sage expert.
He warned Newsnight that it should have already happened as rates continue to rise alarmingly.
The Government said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 14,162 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 544,275.
The Government also said a further 70 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday. This brings the UK total to 42,515.
Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 58,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Traffic light three tier system
The government is also poised to unleash a traffic light three-tier system with red, amber and green levels after Health Secretary Matt Hancock hinted changes were coming.
The system is set to be unveiled by MPs in a bid to simplify the existing measures in the country.