London mayor Sadiq Khan is pushing for a capital lockdown after an emergency Sunday meeting with the government.
Health secretary Matt Hancock also admitted a toughening of measures was under serious consideration – which could see curfews imposed and office staff told to return to home working, just weeks after a high-profile push from the prime minister to do exactly the opposite.
According to reports, the mayor believes London is just two or three days behind coronavirus hotspots in the north east and north west.
He wants a 10pm curfew for entertainment venues and a ban of households mixing – less than a week after the ‘rule of six’ was introduced.
“This country faces a tipping point,” said Hancock.
“We face a choice. If everybody follows the rules – and we’ll be increasingly stringent on the people who are not following the rules – then we can avoid further national lockdowns.
“But we have to be prepared to take action if that it what is necessary. I don’t rule it out; I don’t want to see it.
“The first line of defence is people’s behaviour. But then, after that, local lockdowns are necessary, and I’ve brought in local action right across different parts of the country where cases are rising.”
“I’ve had discussions this week with the mayor of London and the teams are meeting today to discuss further what might be needed.”
City Hall is clearly troubled by the analysis of the latest data from Sage, the scientific advisory group for emergencies.
And during an interview with Times Radio, Hancock was asked if Londoners could be asked to again from work home.
“I wouldn’t rule it out,” he said.