The Prime Minister is expected to announce a second national lockdown for England to curb the spread of coronavirus, after scientists warned that half a million people were being infected each week.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce the measures at a press conference on Monday, according to The Times.
Tougher regional measures – such as the introduction of Tier 4 – are also being considered.
Members of the Sage committee revealed bleak figures showing that the virus is spreading significantly faster than even their original “worst-case scenario” prediction, the Mirror reports.
Current projections predict NHS beds will become overwhelmed with patients battling coronavirus.
The Government has also been warned that some hospitals may not have enough staff to cope with the extra patients on top of the normal winter strains on the NHS.
But what will new restrictions mean? Which businesses will be ordered to close and will vulnerable people have to shield again?
Here’s what we know so far:
Will pubs and restaurants have to close?
If the whole of England is forced into Tier 3 pubs, bars and restaurants, casinos, gyms, leisure centres and other non-essential businesses face being closed.
Under current Tier 3 rules, households and bubbles are not be allowed to mix inside or outdoors.
The ‘rule of six’ also applies outdoors.
Will shops be affected?
Essential shops will stay open, but it is unclear what will happen to non-essential businesses.
Under current Tier 3 rules, most retailers have carried on trading in England.
However, it’s possible the Government may choose to take a similar position to Wales, where non-essential shops shut their doors and supermarkets are told not to sell non-essential items.
Will there be travel restrictions?
It’s expected that people will be urged to avoid travelling outside of their area and staying overnight elsewhere will be banned.
Will face-to-face teaching continue in schools?
Unlike the first lockdown, it’s likely that schools, universities and nurseries will be allowed to stay open for all.
In the last lockdown schools were only open to vulnerable pupils and those of key workers but a second lockdown seems to suggest it will be open to all youngsters.
One senior government source said: “In Tier 3 everything is up for discussion apart from schools, so Tier 4 is an odd concept in that sense.”
Will shielding return?
In the last lockdown, 2.2 million people who were told to shield as they were classed as vulnerable.
It is not known if that will be the case if the nation goes into a second lockdown.
The news comes at the end of a week in which coronavirus deaths in the UK have risen to levels last seen in May.
On Friday (October 20), the Covid-19 death toll shot up by 274, while infections increased by more than 24,000.
Martin McKee, a professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and member of Independent Sage, said: ‘We unfortunately have allowed the infection to get out of control and as a consequence we are going to need to turn this around, otherwise it will just keep going up, more will get seriously ill and more people will die.
“The sooner we impose tighter restrictions, the better. I see MPs saying ‘the rates are low in my area so we shouldn’t do anything’. It’s not about if case are low, it’s about if they are increasing rapidly.”
How will the changes in England affect Wales?
First Minister Mark Drakeford has previously said that Wales is not at the mercy of what happens over the border.
Speaking at a Welsh Government press conference on Friday, Mr Drakeford said: “We have built a defence against transmission of the virus across the border from those parts of England where the virus is in greatest circulation.”
He pointed to the ban restricting people from tier two and three areas in England from travelling to Wales.
Asked how the state of the virus in England is playing into plans in Wales ahead of Christmas, Mr Drakeford said: “That is an additional dilemma for us, of course.”
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Mr Drakeford said he has been invited to meet with Michael Gove to discuss plans for the festive period.
“We need to get round the table together. We need to share information, we need to share ideas,” he said.
“I would like to see as common an approach as we can craft together, while recognising the state of the virus differs in different parts of the UK.”
The First Minister has repeatedly sought to ease fears that the current lockdown might carry on longer than expected.
He reiterated on Friday that the fire-break will come to an end on November 9, and shops, bars, restaurants and gyms will re-open, pupils will go back to school, churches and places of worship will resume services and community centres will be available for small groups to meet safely indoors in the winter months.