Boris Johnson's government acknowledged that it could reimpose a lockdown across England to counter the pandemic, while widely extending local restrictions when hospitalizations double every eight days.
"We want to avoid a national lockdown but we are prepared to do so if necessary," Health Minister Matt Hancock told the BBC. "We are prepared to do whatever it takes to both protect lives and protect the economy."
Government scientific advisers have proposed a blanket lockdown across England for two weeks in October to coincide with the English school holidays.
The United Kingdom is the country in Europe hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than 41,700 confirmed deaths from COVID-19. And the number of new infections is reaching levels not seen since April.
"We have also sadly seen that the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus is doubling every eight days, so we have to take action," Hancock stressed.
Starting next Tuesday, the government extended to several towns in the northwest, including Liverpool, with 500,000 inhabitants, the restrictions that already applied to two million people in the northeast of the country.
These include in particular a ban on meeting with family and friends who do not live under the same roof and a curfew for all entertainment venues between 22:00 and 05:00.
In some areas of the Midlands and West Yorkshire, in the center, the prohibition of receiving at home, inside or in a garden, people living in other homes will also apply from Tuesday.
According to the British media, more than 10 million people are already affected by the measures. In addition, at the national level, all gatherings of more than six people are prohibited from Monday, except schools, workplaces, places of worship and sporting events.