'Last chance saloon': Britain given final warning to avoid new lockdown

Threat of 'heavy measures' unless public responds to 'critical point in pandemic'

Britain is in "the last chance saloon" to avoid tougher lockdown measures, Government sources have warned.

Boris Johnson is expected to give Britain one final chance to prove it can follow the rules and suppress a second wave, as his chief medical officer warns on Monday that the nation has reached a "critical point in the pandemic”.

Professor Chris Whitty will give a live televised broadcast to the nation alongside Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Advisor, warning the spread of the virus is "heading in the wrong direction" and that Britain faces a "very challenging winter period".

The Prime Minister is expected to threaten curfews on pubs and bans on households socialising if the public does not follow strict self-isolation and social distancing rules.

“The message is that ‘This is it'. We have heavy measures down the road unless we can get things back on track, rather than saying any new restrictions are going ahead. This is the last chance saloon,” said a Government source.

“There’s a data point in the next fortnight that will be able to assess how well the rule of six has done. However, if the figures get significantly higher even before that, that will trigger further restrictions now.”

Mr Johnson has been persuaded by ministers led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to hold fire on more economically damaging restrictions. Instead, he will pause to gauge the impact of the rule of six and a new fining regime up to £10,000 for people who fail to self-isolate, which comes into force next Monday.

Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick will reinforce the message at 11am on Monday when they present to the nation new hospital and infection rate data showing Britain is at a “tipping point”.

“The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic. We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period,” Prof Whitty will say.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Britain is doubling every seven days, with 3,899 recorded on Sunday and 18 additional deaths. The reproduction or R rate stands at between 1.1 and 1.4.

In their televised broadcast, Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick will show how the virus is spreading in a way that could replicate the second wave that has hit Spain and France, and the potential scenarios for the UK.

Spain suffered a daily rise of 14,389 cases and 432 deaths - the highest in Europe - on Friday and on Monday imposes further travel and gathering restrictions on 850,000 people in the Madrid region.

France on Friday also recorded its highest number of new confirmed daily cases since the pandemic began, at 13,215 - a jump of nearly 3,000 more cases in 24 hours.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, warned Britain was at a “tipping point” and that he was “very worried” about the latest data which suggested Britain could see cases “absolutely shoot through the roof”.

"When the case rate shoots up, the next thing that happens is the numbers going into hospital shoot up. Sadly, we have seen that rise, it is doubling every eight days or so - people going into hospital - then, with a lag, you see the number of people dying sadly rise," he said.

He warned that failure by the public to obey the rules would lead to tougher measures, and urged people to call the police on their neighbours if they refuse to self-isolate. “If everybody follows the rules ... then we can avoid further national lockdowns. But we of course have to be prepared to take action if that's what's necessary," he said.

A Government source told The Telegraph that Mr Hancock and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove were “keen” on more immediate restrictions, but the rest of the Cabinet was opposed.

“Members of SAGE [the Government’s scientific advisers] are pushing for restrictions now but they have not been looking at the economic situation. Obviously Rishi is in a position where he is having a say too,” said another source.

"We need to focus on doing local lockdowns. The key thing now is going in hard in those areas and stopping it. There's no point hammering people in Truro when Covid cases are coming out of pubs in Bolton,” said another source.

Nicola Sturgeon also wants earlier imposition of further restrictions, in a move hinting Scotland could take a different approach in the battle against Covid-19.

"If we're going to move, it would be better to do it sooner rather than later. Going back to March, every day we don't lock down, you add numbers of daily cases and deaths,” said a source close to the First Minister.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also warned that data suggests London is “just days” rather than weeks behind Covid hotspots in the North West and North East of England and is pressing the Government to sanction further lockdown measures “sooner rather than later”.

Among the national measures being considered are closures of pubs, restaurants and bars or curfews from 10pm to 5am, hospitality for food and drink restricted to table service only, a ban on households socialising indoors and encouragement of people to work from home if possible.

Lady Hale, the former President of the Supreme Court, on Sunday said parliament "surrendered" control of the emergency coronavirus laws to the Government, amid rising unease ahead of a growing Tory backbench rebellion demanding MPs have a say on the next stage of regulations.