England is in the middle of another national lockdown in the hope of slowing the spread of coronavirus after a new variant was detected, meaning it was spreading faster than ever before.
But it seems the national lockdown isn’t having the desired impact, and new, tougher measures are being considered.
As coronavirus cases across the country continue to soar, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned ministers “may have to do more” if rules “are not being properly observed”.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel told people in England to obey lockdown rules, or more stricter restrictions would be enforced within days.
So how could the rules become tougher? Here are five ways restrictions could change in the coming days.
No longer meeting other households for exercise
Under the current lockdown restrictions, people are allowed to leave their homes for exercise once a day.
This can be with one other person from outside your household or support bubble.
A government source has now suggested exercise could be restricted further.
This could mean you can’t meet other households.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not rule out a change to the exercise rule when asked, and added: “There are some people who are stretching that rule.”
Social distancing rules in supermarkets could become law
Throughout all the national lockdowns, people have been able to go to supermarkets to do essential shopping, and this is unlikely to change.
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But there is some concern that people aren’t adhering to the rules when shopping.
No10 sources said supermarkets have been told that rules on social distancing and shopping numbers could be made law.
Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine roll-out minister, told Sky News: “We are concerned that, for example, in supermarkets we need to make sure people actually wear masks and follow the one-way rule in supermarkets.”
Mandatory face masks in more places
Wearing face coverings is already mandatory certain places for those who aren’t exempt, such as on public transport.
But they could become mandatory in more places, such as offices and crowded outdoor spaces, a source told the Telegraph.
Professor Chris Whitty said risks were lower outside, but problems could occur if people gather in groups.
The Chief Medical Officer told BBC: “In that situation there might be some logic to people thinking about wearing masks.”
If stricter measures are introduced, outdoor markets, shops running click and collect, and garden centres could be told to close.
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Very few places remain open, but those who are might be told to close amid fears of the virus spreading.
Mr Johnson has said he would need to see clear data showing problems before he considered this.
But it is understood pictures of people gathering in markets or in queues have caused rumblings in Whitehall.
Increasing social distancing gap
Current advice says social distancing should be “one measure plus”.
Two metres is preferable, or one metre plus other measures such as wearing a face mask.
But leading members of the SAGE scientific advisory panel want to raise the measure to “two metres plus”.
A Downing Street spokesman told Daily Mail: "There are no current plans to change social distancing rules. However, everything is kept under review."
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