England 'could ban household visits' if 10pm curfew and 'rule of six' don't work

England could be forced to follow Scotland’s ban on households visiting each other, Boris Johnson has reportedly been told by his chief medical officer.

Professor Chris Whitty is said to have told the prime minister that tighter restrictions are inevitable during the winter months, after warning earlier this week that ‘the seasons are against us’ as he mapped out how the virus is spreading ‘exponentially’ across the country.

He is said to have told the PM that the ‘rule of six’ and the latest 10pm curfew on hospitality venues will not go far enough to curb the spread of the virus and recommended following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s lead if they fail.

No 10’s top scientists will be watching carefully over the next two weeks, which will be crucial in deciding the next steps. One source told The Times the plan was a ‘phased approach’, adding: ‘We’re still in early autumn and we shouldn’t be optimistic that this won’t get worse.’

From today, Scottish households are banned from mixing after Sturgeon said data suggested meeting in homes has already reduced the transmission rates in west Scotland. Northern Ireland has also imposed the rule.

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Chief medical officers from all four devolved administrations met on Monday to decide on what measures needed to be enforced to reverse the UK’s surge in cases.

While announcing his package of restrictions on Tuesday, the prime minister insisted that he was trying to get the ‘delicate balance’ right between saving lives and protecting the economy.

But Sturgeon said the advice she received from her chief medical officer was that Johnson’s latest measures, which also included a U-turn on No 10’s return to the office message, ‘will not be sufficient to bring the R number down’ alone.

It is understood that Prof Whitty’s deputies, Jonathan Van Tam and Jenny Harries, also warned in the meeting that the PM’s package would not be good enough.

But all three reportedly believed Johnson should try softer measures first to avoid battering the economy further.

The PM announced yesterday that the latest restrictions in England would come into effect from Thursday, including the compulsory use of face coverings for retail and hospitality staff.

He warned that if the latest package of measures fail, Britons could be looking at six months of restrictions but was ‘fervently’ against another national lockdown.

Johnson said the limit of six on social gatherings would remain, but weddings would no longer be exempt. Previously receptions could have 30 guests, but this has been cut back to 15 in a bid to stop the virus spreading.

The PM urged people not to be complacent with the new restrictions, warning the amount people can be fined for breaking the ‘rule of six’ or not wearing a face mask will double to £200.

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