The government is looking at bringing in a curfew on pub opening hours to stop the spread of coronavirus, the prime minister has said.
Boris Johnson said he hoped the government’s new « rule of six » would be enough to send the country’s « R number » negative again, and said he did not want to impose a full nationwide lockdown for the sake of businesses.
But asked whether further measures such as a curfew could be put into place, the prime minister told The Sun newspaper: “I don’t think we are yet in that position but look around the world at what other countries are doing. What I don’t want to be doing is locking down sections of the economy.
“I remember when the pubs used to close at 11 anyway in the old days. That sort of thing, we will be looking at it.”
It comes amid reports that the government is planning to reintroduce rationing for coronavirus tests as part of plans to prioritise some cases over others.
The testing programme has been hit by a shortage of lab capacity, with samples having to be sent abroad to more organised countries.
There are widespread reports, particularly in outbreak hotspots, of people unable to get tested or told to drive to the other side of the country for a free slot.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper reports that officials have drawn up a priority list where testing would again be restricted to hospital patients, care homes, certain key workers and schools.
Under the plan, routine testing would no longer be offered to swathes of the public, even if they were symptomatic – effectively a downgrade on what is currently available.
Health minister Edward Agar told the BBC on Thursday morning that such guidelines would be unveiled « in the next few days ».
« It is possible there will be people who have symptoms who apply for a test who have to wait longer because we’re prioritising those front line workers, » he said, adding that the list would « prioritise front line, NHS care workers, teachers, and similar ».
The warning comes came as Britain as a whole recorded around 4,000 new Covid-19 cases in a day for the first time since the beginning of May. The figures has jumped from 3,539 to 3,991 since the day before.
But despite the warning that additional restrictions could be in place, Mr Johnson was cool on the idea floated by some of his ministers that the public should report their neighbours for breaking the rules.
He urged people to be « reasonable » and decried « sneak » culture – suggesting people should only be reported if they were having « Animal House parties » featuring « hot tubs and so forth ».
“I have never much been in favour of sneak culture, myself, » he told the newspaper.
“What people should do in the first instance is obviously if they are concerned is raise it with their friends and neighbours. »
Speaking in the same interview the prime minister also turned to the subject of Brexit negotiations, accusing the EU of being « abusive » and of not negotiating in good faith. Mr Johnsons’s government has said it will break international law in order to override parts of the agreement he signed at the beginning of the year relating to Northern Ireland.