A senior Government source told The Times the country ‘wasn’t ready’ to hear the plans last week, but they have been suggested to help stop the second wave in its tracks.
Under the emergency plan, pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues would be forced to shut for at least two weeks and households would be banned from meeting each other in any indoor location.
Schools, essential shops and offices where people cannot work from home would be left open.
Currently, areas with local restrictions are in partial social lockdown as mixing households is banned – but pubs, hospitality venues and non-essential shops usually remain open for people visiting in their own ‘bubbles’.
The measures were initially presented to the Government last week, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected them fearing a backlash from MPs and the public.
‘The nation and the party wasn’t ready for us to go any further last week,’ the Government source added.
‘There wasn’t a wide enough understanding of how substantial the second wave could be.
‘Unlike the first lockdown, nobody has seen pictures of body bags in Spain or France on the TV yet, which had a very powerful effect. You have to take people with you.
‘Tougher measures on social interaction will have to come though. They’re inevitable in some parts if you look at the numbers.’
The emergency measures could be imposed in Covid-19 hotspots including the whole of London, Merseyside and north-east England as early as this week.
Liverpool recorded 146.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people last week, up from 95.8 the week before, while South Tyneside recorded 137.8 cases per 100,000 last week, up from 86.
Downing Street reportedly hopes to avoid a national social lockdown, with infection rates remaining low in the country’s southwest and southeast, outside of London.
But a Government figure described the fate of the capital as ‘in the balance’ after it was added to the coronavirus ‘watch list’ of places which could be put into local lockdown.
According to another Tory source, Michael Gove was the leading voice pushing for new social restrictions, while Chancellor Rishi Sunak leads the opposing group in the Cabinet as he pushes to keep as much of the economy open as possible.
It comes after a swathe of local lockdowns across the UK in recent days – including Leeds, Wigan, Stockport and Blackpool. A number of universities have also been affected.
A number of areas in Wales have also been hit with restrictions, including Cardiff and Swansea, and Neath Port Talbot, Vale of Glamorgan and Torfaen from 6pm today.
And people across England are legally required to self-isolate from today if they test positive for coronavirus or are contacted by the test and trace service.
If they do not flouters risk being hit with fines starting at £1,000 – and increasing up to £10,000 for repeat offenders or serious breaches – the Department of Health and Social Care has said.
The department added police will check compliance in the highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups based on ‘local intelligence’.
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