England could be placed under a national lockdown from next Wednesday, two reports have suggested.
Boris Johnson will announce the new measures at a press conference on Monday, The Times and Daily Mail said.
It could see everything closed except essential shops and education until December 1, the reports suggested.
However, no final decisions are believed to have been made, and tougher regional measures – such as the introduction of Tier 4 – are also being considered.
EXCLUSIVE with @elliotttimes
Boris Johnson is preparing to introduce national lockdown restrictions from next Wednesday
The restrictions could see everything except nurseries, schools, universities and non-essential shops close until Dec 1
PM presser on Monday https://t.co/8QY54ZI8Cd
— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) October 30, 2020
Boris Johnson to announce national lockdown next week pic.twitter.com/R4dMbaLP3d
— John Stevens (@johnestevens) October 30, 2020
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth shared the Times newspaper front page, bearing the headline “national lockdown looms”, as he said on Twitter: “The virus is now spreading with ferocity.
“Boris Johnson needs to show some actual leadership and get a grip of this crisis.
“He should have followed the advice of scientists and used the school half term for a time limited circuit break to push infections down and save lives.”
Johnson has so far resisted pressure to reintroduce nationwide restrictions, despite calls for a “circuit-breaker” to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.
But new data published on Friday suggested around 570,000 people per week are becoming infected with Covid-19 across England, prompting fresh calls from scientists for tougher restrictions.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey found cases “continued to rise steeply” in the week ending October 23, with an estimated 568,100 people in households becoming infected.
Scientific advisers at the top of government believe it is now too late for a two-week national circuit-breaker to have enough of an effect and a longer national lockdown is needed to drive the reproduction number, or R value, of the virus below one.
All parts of England are on course to eventually end up in Tier 3 restrictions, they believe, while deaths could potentially hit 500 per day within weeks.
Government scientists are also confident that more than 50,000 new cases of coronavirus are now occurring every day in England.
Over the last week, deaths have averaged 230 a day while the latest ONS data suggests more than 50,000 cases a day.
On Friday, the government said a further 274 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, while a further 24,405 lab-confirmed cases were recorded in the UK.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.