PUBS could be forced to close again in the “very near future” as coronavirus cases spiral out of control, Matt Hancock warned this morning.
Mr Hancock said “no final decisions” have been made but warned Brits they could face even tighter restrictions as the UK tries desperately to get a second wave of the virus under control.
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When asked if pubs could be closed this weekend, Mr Hancock told ITV’s This Morning: “We will be absolutely clear about the changes we need to make in the very, very near future.”
He said the answer to pubs closing is “not a not, and it’s not a yes”.
He added: “We have been working on this all weekend, we haven’t taken the final decisions about what we need to do in response to the surge that we have seen in the last few weeks.”
The chief medical fficer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance are expected to give Brits a dire warning about how quickly coronavirus could grip hold of the nation if people fail to follow the rules this morning.
And Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation tomorrow amid growing fears over the surge in new cases.
There were almost 4,000 new cases of coronavirus in the UK yesterday.
Mr Hancock said he spoke to the PM, saying: “He is as worried as we all are about the rise in the number of cases and we have to make a final decision about what’s the best response to that.”
Pubs who fail to enforce social distancing rules – including making people fill in Track & Trace forms – could be forced to shut, according to the Daily Mail.
A Cabinet minister said: “People have been registering in pubs as Donald Duck and providing made-up phone numbers, or not giving any contact details at all. So a crackdown is needed.”
Pubs and restaurants could also be forced to abide by a strict 10pm curfew to try and curb growing infections from people drinking and forgetting social distancing.
Venues in some local lockdown areas – including Lancashire and Merseyside – will have curfews from tomorrow.
And people in Bolton are only able to get takeaway after other local lockdown measures failed to stem the tide of cases.
Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick are expected to say at 11am this morning that Britain is “heading in the wrong direction” as No10 warned Brits they are in the “last chance saloon” to avoid a second national lockdown or very strict restrictions.
In a televised briefing on Monday, the chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor will warn the UK faces a “very challenging winter”.
NATIONAL LOCKDOWN: The PM could order the whole country into a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown. This would apply nationwide in an attempt to dampen down the infection rates.
STRONGER REGIONAL LOCKDOWNS: Ministers could impose even tougher restrictions on areas already under tighter rules, possibly closing pubs and restaurants altogether rather than just having a 10pm curfew.
EXTEND LOCAL LOCKDOWNS: Continuing the “whack-a-mole” approach with extra restrictions to regions when infection rates climb. This would let parts of the country with lower infection rates get back closer to normality.