People across England could be BANNED from seeing family & friends again in fresh lockdown measures, ministers hint

PEOPLE across England could face bans on seeing their family, friends and lovers in other households again in fresh lockdown measures, ministers hinted today.

Grant Shapps, Matt Hancock and Professor Chris Whitty all warned how the virus is spreading in settings like homes and social settings – and less so in offices and on public transport.

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Boris Johnson is expected to announce fresh measures tomorrow to curb the spread of the virus – after a dire warning from his top scientists this morning explaining the data behind the current spike in cases.

And people in the North East, West, Midlands and parts of Wales already face bans on household mixing.

The local lockdown measures could be extended across the country as part of plans to try and avoid another national lockdown.

Back in March people were banned from seeing anyone they didn't live with to try and break the levels of transmission.

Anyone who sees friends and family at the moment is supposed to stay 2m apart from them, but many people have been flouting the rules.

Professor Whitty hinted that measures to stop households from mingling will be unveiled tomorrow.

He warned in a live address to the nation: "We have to break unnecessary links between households because that if the way the virus transmits – whether they are at work, or in social environments.

"We have to try and do this in the least damaging way we can."

And Mr Shapps said this morning on ways to control the spread: "I think the way we do that is to push down on the R-rate by, unfortunately, restricting the social contact we have in other forms, and it’s really important that we do adhere to that otherwise we do end up in a more restrictive situation."

The Health Secretary said more people tend to catch the disease in social settings such as "people coming around to your house" or through "going out and socialising".

There have been few cases being transmitted in schools and through the workplace, he stressed.

It comes as:

  • Scientists warned Britain could face 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day in just three weeks – and deaths could soar to 200 a day by mid-November if no action is taken
  • Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance warned the UK was at a critical point – and the situation was moving very fast
  • Mr Whitty said: "We see this as a six month problem" with rules in place for the forseeable future
  • The virus is now spreading in every age group again
  • The PM will chair COBRA tomorrow and will make a Commons statement tomorrow
  • He's speaking with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland today to update them on the latest situation
  • Pubs could have to shut or face curfews by the weekend, Matt Hancock admitted earlier
  • Boris is expected to launch an 'enforcement' crackdown on pubs that flout the rules

A Downing Street spokesperson said in response to suggestions of more measures: "We have always been clear that our strategy is to keep the virus down as much as possible while protecting education and the economy.

"I would point to the words of the Health Secretary this morning where he said that we are prepared to take action if necessary.

"But we, obviously, want to avoid any extended lockdown."

He added: "Our focus is to reduce transmission rates."

Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government is poised to bring in tougher restrictions "within days" and hinted the rest of the UK will do the same.

She said this lunchtime: “In my view, further and urgent action will now be needed to stop the increase in the number of cases."

The developments come just a week after the 'rule of six' was introduced across the nation – banning people in large groups meeting up or they face a £100 fine.

Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance said in a televised speech this morning that the UK is at a “critical point” and "this could move very fast" – warning the problem could last for six months.

As cases of the virus rise in the UK and across Europe, Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick explained how the bug is spreading as the nation moves towards a challenging winter.

Using charts and graphs to set out the latest figures, they showed how the virus isn't just spreading among younger people, but now older generations too – and more people are in hospital as a result.

Two hundred people a day could be dying by the middle of November if the trend continues, he said.

Professor Whitty added that everyone has a part to play in stopping the disease, saying: "This is not someone else's problem, this is all of our problems.

“We must see this as a six month problem – we have to take this collectively very seriously.”


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.

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."

What restrictions are on the cards?

TWO WEEK LOCKDOWN: The nation could face extra rules for two weeks as part of a temporary move to curb the virus.

PUB CURFEW: Already in the North East and West of England pubs are shutting at 10pm to stop the spread.

PUBS SHUT: In some areas that are really badly hit, pubs have been ordered to shut except for takeaway food.

BAN ON SEEING FRIENDS: Many people are currently not allowed to see people from outside their household in lockdown areas. Those measures could be seen across the nation.

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