England’s chief medical officer professor Chris Whitty has suggested that measures could be needed until “some time in the spring” to stem the spread of the virus.
“We’ve got to make this sustainable because we got to be able to maintain this for several more weeks now,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“We’re really going to have to do a significant action for all of us for several more weeks until probably some time in the spring for very much of what we have to do.
“So, we do obviously need to be able to do essential work which they can’t do from home. We fully accept that that’s necessary to keep society going because you’ve got to be able to do it over a period of time.
“So, the three things that people can leave home for are essential work where they can’t do it from home, when they are doing exercise – which is very important for people’s physical health, their mental health – and for essential things like shopping or medical intervention.”
He urged people to “double down” and stop any “unnecessary contacts”.
“What we need to do before the vaccines have had their effect – because it’s going to take several weeks before that happens – is we need to really double down.
“This is everybody’s problem, any single unnecessary contact with someone is a potential link in a chain of transmission that will lead to a vulnerable person.
“We’ve all got to, as individuals, help the NHS, help our fellow citizens, by minimising the amount of unnecessary contacts we have.”
He added: “The virus can be passed on in any place where people from two different households meet together.
“So, it can be passed on, and very often is passed on, in households when people invite people into their home and meet them who are not from their household.
“Of course, it can be passed on in any other environment: outside, in shops, in any kind of environment, and an indoor setting.
“The key thing to understand is that when you meet people from another household under any circumstances – and they’re very often your friends, your family – but those are the kind of situations where the virus is passed on.
“It doesn’t care who you are, it doesn’t care whether they’re your friends. If you meet someone from another household, the virus has an opportunity to be transmitted.”