Britain could be subjected to a nationwide curfew with businesses forced to shut from 10pm, it has been reported.
Punters in Bolton were yesterday told to down their pints before they were kicked out of pubs at the dawn of a new lockdown, amid desperate efforts to stop partying young people fuelling a surge in coronavirus cases.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced bars and restaurants in the city will only be allowed to serve takeaway and must close between 10pm and 5am.
The Daily Telegraph reports that ministers are now considering extending the 'curfew' to the whole country, after the seemingly successful measure was introduced in Belgium.
Mr Hancock has said that Bolton was host to 120 cases per 100,000 people, with contact tracing revealing that the rise was fuelled by Britons in their 20s and 30s spending time in pubs.
A senior Government source says ministers have discussed the possibility of extending the curfew to the entire country.
The Government will be 'stepping up' its communications campaign around maintaining social distancing while also increasing enforcement for those who break the rules.
Ministers are now con sidering extending the 'curfew' to the whole country, after the seemingly successful measure was introduced in Belgium
The infection rates for young people have been rising recently, but so far they have been relatively flat for older people
Jeremy Hunt, Tory chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee, asked if the Government will look to South Korea and Hong Kong as examples of good practice for stemming an increase in cases and avoiding a second lockdown.
Responding, Mr Hancock told the Commons: 'In some countries, not only in the Far East but also closer to home, they have seen a rise in cases especially among younger people, taken action and that has turned the curve.
'That's particularly true, for instance, in Belgium which we were very worried about a month ago but the case rate has come right down when they put a curfew in place.'
He added: 'We'll be stepping up the communications, making sure that people are reminded very clearly with clarity of the rules.
'We'll be taking action to step up enforcement too to make sure that we can keep this virus under control until we can build up both the mass testing capacity and, as I mentioned in my statement, ultimately the vaccine on which the scientists are doing great work, but all vaccine work is uncertain until we get clarity from the regulators that it's safe and effective to use.'
Peter Sutton, from the Millstone in the city centre, told MailOnline he was 'embarrassed' after being told about the changes across by the bar by a regular
Flouting of social distancing by 20 and 30-somethings is thought to be largely responsible for Bolton's sharp rise, and Mr Hancock said a ban on mixing outside of households will be law.
Furious landlords were left red faced as they were told of the new restrictions by drinkers after being given 'no notice' from the government.
Peter Sutton, from the Millstone in the city centre, told MailOnline he was 'embarrassed' after being told about the changes across the bar by a regular.
He said he checked the new rules online and was forced to tell punters to neck their pints before booting them out at 2.30pm.
Mr Sutton said: 'It's a pain being up and running and now having to close again. No notice was given and I only found out through a punter.
'It's very embarrassing. [Our survival] depends on how long we are closed for. It would be nice if it was just two or three weeks then we should be fine.'
He added: 'I think everyone knew the new rules coming in to the pub. We shut around 2.30pm and told everyone it was closing time and people just needed to finish up their drinks and go.'
Mr Hancock addressed the changes in Bolton during a statement to the House of Commons.
Data from Public Health England shows that more than 40 per cent of coronavirus tests done in hospitals were positive in March and April but this has now plummeted and remains below 2.5 per cent in both hospitals and the community. This shows that there remains only a small proportion of people with the symptoms of coronavirus who actually have it
He said: 'Unfortunately after improving for several weeks, we've seen a very significant rise in cases in Bolton.
'Bolton is up to 120 cases per 100,000 of population, the highest case rate in the country and I'm publishing the data behind the decisions that we've taken.
'I must therefore tell that House that, working with the local council, we're taking further local action.
'The rise in cases in Bolton is partly due to socialising by people in their 20s and 30s, we know this from contact tracing.
'And through our contacting tracing system we've identified a number of pubs at which the virus has spread significantly...
'We will restrict all hospitality to takeaways-only and we'll introduce a late-night restriction of operating hours which will mean all venues will be required to close from 10pm to 5am.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced bars and restaurants in Bolton will only be allowed to serve takeaway, and must close between 10pm and 5am
Scientists have previously said cases have risen over August as a result of increased testing (pictured, how testing has risen during the pandemic)
But the number of people who receive a 'positive' result after getting tested under Pillar 2 has increased in recent weeks (blue line) to 2.3 per cent. It's also increased under Pillar 2 (red line), but is nowhere near the levels seen at the height of the pandemic
'We'll introduce urgently further measures that put the current guidance that people cannot socialise outside their household into law.'
Rising Covid-19 cases are being driven by people in their teens and 20s, where cases have tripled since July, official data shows, while the number of positive tests among older generations has continued to fall. MailOnline analysis shows infections have surged from 9.2 to 28 cases per 100,000 since July 4, 'Super Saturday', in those aged 20 to 29 in England.
And the case rate has