Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation tomorrow evening, as he tries to stop the spread of coronavirus as cases rocket across the country.
Restrictions the Prime Minister could bring into force in England include a ban on households mixing, a curfew on pubs and harsher penalties for those who flout the law.
Merseyside is already set to have more restrictions brought into force tomorrow, with households unable to mix together in private homes and gardens.
But Mr Johnson is expected to bring in these measures for the rest of England, with London reportedly asking for more restrictions – reports Mirror Online.
Today top scientists Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance gave a stark warning to the nation as they warned of 200 deaths per day by mid-November if the government did not stop the spread of the virus.
They hinted that social gatherings could be restricted soon and said that rules may be in place for "six months" with us having to take the virus "very seriously" this Autumn and Winter.
Government sources are today warning England is in the "last-chance saloon" – as ministers refused to guarantee pubs will still be open in full this weekend.
No final decisions have been taken – and there are tensions in the Tory Cabinet between controlling the virus and propping up the flailing economy.
But ministers, the PM and officials have all dropped big hints about what, if anything, the national restrictions might be.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today said "if we do have to take action it will be different to last time" – so we're not talking about a full-scale lockdown.
Instead restrictions would be targeted at socialising in homes, gardens, pubs or restaurants – where data suggests you're most at risk of catching Covid-19.
The PM’s official spokesman said “next steps” in tackling coronavirus would aim to “halt its spread, protect the NHS and save lives”.
And he said the PM has been “working throughout the weekend” to look at the data and work out what to do.
But while warning “everything is under review,” the spokesman said it was too early to say what any next steps will be.
Here's what we understand are the current options on the table.
The first port of call for the government is making sure the current rules are actually being enforced – something critics say isn't happening.
Officials are considering doubling £100 fines for breaking the 'rule of six' in England to £200.
They have looked at Germany, where enforcement is harsher but the increase in cases is said to be less dramatic.
The Mirror understands there are big concerns in government about public compliance with the rules – part of the reason there will be £1,000 fines, rising to £10,000 in the worst cases, for breaching self-isolation from September 28.
Ban on households mingling
The one measure uniting every local lockdown area so far is a ban on meeting people who live in another household.
In some areas, such as Birmingham, this only applies in private homes or gardens.
In other areas it also applies in any indoor public venues, like pubs or restaurants.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned: "We have to break unnecessary links between households, because that is the way in which this virus is transmitted. This means reducing social contacts, whether they are at work… and also in social environments.
Matt Hancock confirmed "where people catch the disease tends to be in social settings" – a strong hint these will be the first areas to be hit.
What we don't know is how restricted we'll be or whether pubs will be included.
Many argue a ban on socialising is illogical when people can still be in the same pub as strangers or workplace with colleagues.
But it could limit infections and would be cost-free to the economy, while of course angering families and proving difficult to enforce.
In any change it's likely "support bubbles" – which tack together two households into one under certain circumstances – could continue to meet.
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'Curfews' where pubs shut at 10pm
Pubs and restaurants are already closing at 10pm across large areas of the country including the North East and Bolton. During the day they are also restricted to either takeaways or table service only.
No10 is now looking at whether to implement a similar policy England-wide.
Close contact with others indoors can increase the spread of the disease and after a few pints it is harder to maintain social distancing.
Some experts believe only complete closure will be effective. But the Government is striving to balance it against the economic impact.
Asked if Britons would “be in the pubs this weekend”, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told ITV's This Morning: “We will be absolutely clear about changes that we need to make in the very, very near future.
“It's not a 'no' and it's not a 'yes'. We haven't taken the final decisions about what we need to do in response to the surge that we are seeing.
“The exact timing hasn't quite been set.”
Essential travel only or working from home
Asking the public just to travel for work, school or medical appointments helps to reduce numbers on public transport, thus helping to prevent new infections.
In parts of South Wales the public have been told not to leave or enter the area without reasonable excuse.
And in the North East, for example, people are advised only to travel for "essential reasons" such as going to work or school, supporting a vulnerable person or picking up food and medicine.
This includes travel in and out of the affected area and travel within it.
A 'circuit breaker'
This idea is a two-week period of tightened and targeted restrictions nationwide, which could slow transmission in the community.
Schools and workplaces would remain open, but the hospitality sector shut for a short period.
It could avoid the need for a full lockdown while relieving pressure on the NHS.
But once the break is over cases would begin to rise again. And experts have warned two weeks is not long enough to have a real impact.
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When might the new rules take force?
Insiders suggested the restrictions could be introduced next week so that Government scientists have the chance to see if the 'Rule of Six' has helped get new infections under control.
However, no timings have been confirmed.
What could come earlier is tougher enforcement of the rules – in a last-ditch bid to make them work before we introduce new restrictions on top.
Will the rules apply across the whole of the UK?
Boris Johnson is expected to make a fresh push for the whole of the UK to work together as he mulls new national restrictions.
The Prime Minister was due to hold separate calls on Monday lunchtime with the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
He was then expected to host a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning – the second in four days after a Cabinet conference call on Saturday. A COBRA meeting will also be held on Tuesday morning.
It was not yet clear when any new rules may be announced – and the PM’s spokesman failed to promise Cabinet would actually sign off the rules.
The spokesman also stopped short of saying if Mr Johnson would try to unite all four nations into one UK-wide set of rules.
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been setting separate rules since the height of the pandemic.
But the spokesman said he would stress “his commitment to working together with the devolved administrations as one United Kingdom, in response to the rising infection rate that we’re seeing across the UK.”
What about Christmas?
The government's advisors believe that without a vaccine or other miracle, we will be living under restrictions until at least next Spring.
No decision has been made yet about when any restrictions will end.
One bizarre idea trailled in a Sunday newspaper was that Boris Johnson could lift restrictions for 24 hours on Christmas Day.
But that's not reflected in comments by Matt Hancock, who refused to say Christmas would be "normal".
Instead the Health Secretary told ITV: "I want Christmas to be as normal as possible and the more we can control the virus now and stop the spread now, the easier it’s going to be to have a Christmas that’s as close to normal as possible."
What's less likely to happen?
Full national lockdown
Ministers have said this is the “last line of defence” which they are desperate to avoid because of the economic hit on our already hammered economy.
But they have refused to rule it out if the public continues to flout social distancing rules.
Some scientists say tougher measures are needed soon – but we are not yet at the point of needing a full lockdown.
Full school closures
The government has repeatedly said it does not want to close schools en-masse again like it did from March.
Any options would focus on schools staying open and they would likely be the last thing to shut.
Matt Hancock said “relatively few” cases are caught through schools or work and asked if we could return to home-schooling, he replied: "I really, really want to avoid that."
What we could see however is more individual schools or year groups being sent home where there is an outbreak.
And the idea has been floated – though not confirmed anywhere – of giving pupils a two-week half term to give the virus a small window to cool off.