Health Secretary Matt Hancock has not ruled out a second national lockdown, telling Sky News: “We’ll do what is necessary to keep people safe.”
It has been reported that scientists advising the government have proposed a two-week national lockdown in October to try to tackle the rising number of coronavirus cases.
Asked about those reports and the possibility of a second national lockdown, Mr Hancock told Sky News’ Kay Burley: “The last line of defence is full 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.”
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 is the last line of defence.
According to the Financial Times, experts on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) have suggested a new national lockdown.
This could coincide with the October school half-term in order to limit the impact on children’s education, the newspaper added.
On Thursday, localised restrictions were introduced in northeast England, which means more than 10 million people across the UK are now in some form of local lockdown.
New restrictions covering the whole of Lancashire, with the exception of two thirds of the seaside resort of Blackpool, are expected to be announced on Friday.
Mr Hancock confirmed the government would be “making further announcements” on localised action later in the day.