Dominic Raab today warned the UK 'could end up in a national lockdown' if Boris Johnson's new coronavirus crackdown fails to get the disease under control.
The Foreign Secretary said a second shutdown 'is what we want to avoid' but the nuclear option remains in the Government's 'arsenal' if all else fails.
Mr Raab said he hoped 'if everyone plays by the rules' then the nation will be able to go into the Christmas period without a national lockdown being imposed.
He also defended the Government's plans to allow the police to ask the Army for help in order to boost Covid-19 enforcement.
Mr Raab said military personnel could be drafted in to 'relieve capacity' and allow officers to concentrate on enforcing rules as he dismissed claims that soldiers will be patrolling the streets as 'scaremongering'.
The Foreign Secretary's intervention came as critics blasted the Government for seemingly failing to take any of the responsibility for the spike in cases despite ministers presiding over numerous chaotic U-turns and policy changes in recent months.
Tory MPs said the Government's handling of the crisis has been a 'total shambles' and that repeated shifts in official guidance had left many people across the country confused as to what the rules actually are.
Meanwhile, it was claimed that Professor Chris Whitty has told Mr Johnson that England will likely have to follow Scotland's lead in banning visits between separate households.
England may need to follow Scotland's lead and ban households from visiting each other, Boris Johnson has been told by his chief medical officer.
Chris Whitty, who threatened to break 'unnecessary links between different households' on Monday, is understood to have recommended Nicola Sturgeon's hardline approach to coronavirus to the Prime Minister.
England's chief medical officer reportedly believes that further restrictions are inevitable this winter and that draconian new measures – including a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants – will not bring the virus under control.
The Scottish First Minister claimed that advice from her chief medical officer and national clinical director was that Mr Johnson's programme 'on its own will not be sufficient to bring the R number down'.
Chief medical officers from all four home nations met on Monday to agree advice to each of the devolved administrations, according to The Times. It is understood that Prof Whitty concurred with his Scottish counterpart, Gregor Smith.
Jonathan Van Tam and Jenny Harries, Prof Whitty's deputies, are thought to believe that the tough new restrictions in England did not go far enough – but accepted that the Prime Minister would have to try less strict measures to save the economy first.
A source told the paper the plan was a 'phased approach', adding: 'We're still in early autumn and we shouldn't be optimistic that this won't get worse.'
It came as Ms Sturgeon admitted that banning Scots from visiting each other's homes is a 'step backwards' but will stop coronavirus from 'spiralling out of control'.
Mr Raab's second lockdown warning came as:Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' council, said the introduction of the rule of six had led to a surge in people reporting others for breaching restrictions. The City of London Corporation said it is 'disappointed at the blanket call for office workers to return to working from home' as it warned 'we need to find a way of living with it that doesn't cripple our economy'. Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the Government is about to repeat the 'mistake' it made in March by failing to 'react quick enough' to a spike in case numbers. Nicola Sturgeon said a new Covid-19 'tipping point' has been reached requiring new restrictions in Scotland. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford asked people in the country to 'think every time they make a journey' and avoid unnecessary travel.
Mr Johnson yesterday announced a wave of new restrictions designed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
He imposed a 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants across England from tomorrow, extended rules on the mandatory wearing of face coverings and also urged workers to work from home where they can.
Members of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said the curfew would not be enough to slow the rate of infection.
But Mr Johnson insisted his approach was based on trying to 'balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods'.
However, he said he reserved the right to 'deploy greater fire power' should it be necessary.
Mr Raab today said a second national lockdown could be needed to control the spread of coronavirus if the latest measures do not work.
He told Sky News: 'We've always said we've got a sort of repository of measures in the arsenal to take.
'I don't think we would speculate about what further could be done.
'But the reality is they will be more intrusive or we could end up in a national lockdown. That is what we want to avoid.'
The Foreign Secretary said that if 'everyone plays by the rules' then a national lockdown may not be needed at Christmas.
He said: 'Let's hope that we can get through the winter months if we take these measures and if everyone plays by the rules, and we go into Christmas not needing to go into that national lockdown with all the impact on society and families but also the damage it would do to businesses.'
Mr Raab also defended the Government's 10pm curfew on hospitality, despite figures suggesting just five per cent of coronavirus cases are linked to pubs, bars and restaurants.
'We know that in bars and restaurants, particularly after people have had a few drinks, as you go into the later hours of the evening, that there's a risk that the compliance with the guidance ebbs a little bit,' he said.
'So we're taking this measure, we're confident based on the evidence that we've got domestically and internationally that it's one element of those that we need to make.'
Mr Raab also defended the Government's decision to offer military support to the police to free up officers to focus on enforcing coronavirus rules and imposing fines on rule breakers.
He said: 'The reality is there will be stronger enforcement, more powers for the police, higher levels of fines, mainly for the small minority who haven't complied always with the rules.
'We don't want them to blow it for the vast majority of people and end up in a second lockdown.
'The issue with the army, as throughout this pandemic they have been used to backfill, to support, for example local authorities with testing, delivery of PPE and if they can relieve any capacity for the police to do the very difficult job that they have done incredibly well, they will be there to do that.'
He said suggestions that there could be troops patrolling the streets was 'scaremongering'.
Number 10 has stressed that soldiers will not be enforcing the rules and will be used to fill office roles or guard protected sites.
However, senior police figures have rejected the offer of help and said it is unnecessary.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs Council, said: 'Any military support must be assessed carefully. At the moment, no military involvement is necessary, nor do we anticipate this will be needed.'
Professor Chris Whitty, pictured alongside Sir Patrick Vallance in Westminster yesterday, is said to have told Mr Johnson that a ban on household visits will likely be needed
Experts have thrown cold water on the dramatic graph presented by Sir Patrick and Professor Whitty on Monday, saying it was 'implausible' that case numbers would outstrip France and Spain by so much. The pair said the UK could face 50,000 daily new cases by mid-October and more than 200 daily deaths by November unless the nation changed course
All four of the home nations have now spelled out new coronavirus restrictions designed to slow the spread of the disease.
Much of what has been announced is broadly similar across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
But one major difference is that England is the only one not to have imposed some sort of new restriction on households meeting indoors.
England's status as the odd one out on households mixing has prompted speculation that Boris Johnson will eventually have to back down and follow the example set by the devolved administrations.
Here is a breakdown of what the new rules are in each country:
Workers are being encouraged to work from home again, wherever possible.
Pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm from Thursday and can only offer table service.
People working in retail, travelling in taxis, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except while seated at a table to eat or drink, will have to wear face coverings.
From Monday, a maximum of 15 people will be allowed to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, but the limit remains at 30 for funerals.
Household mixing indoors will no longer be allowed, with exemptions for those living alone, couples not living together, childcare and tradespeople.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said children under 12 will be exempt from the current limit of six people from two households when meeting outside, and those between 12 and 18 will be able to meet a limit of six others from six households outdoors.
From Friday pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm.
People in Scotland are also being advised against car-sharing.
Ms Sturgeon has asked people not to book any overseas travel for the half-term break unless it is essential, and to use it as an opportunity to 'further limit social interaction'.
Households are no longer allowed to mix indoors, except for single-person bubbles and certain other exemptions.
No more than six people from two households can meet in a garden.
Pubs which do not serve food, known as wet pubs, are due to open on Wednesday, despite the latest restrictions.
Ministers are considering whether to impose a 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants.
Pubs, cafes, restaurants and casinos in Wales must operate as table service only and close from 10pm on Thursday.
Off-licences including supermarkets will also be stopped from selling alcohol at the same time each day as part of the measures.
Only six people are able to meet indoors and must be part of a single extended household.
Face coverings must be worn on public transport, in shops and in enclosed public spaces across Wales.
John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation, said: 'This is not what policing has asked for and not what is needed.'
Mr Johnson's new coronavirus clampdown faced swift scrutiny after Nicola Sturgeon went further than the PM and announced a ban on households mixing indoors in Scotland.
The Times reported today that Prof Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, has told Mr Johnson that England will likely have to follow Scotland's lead on the issue.
Prof Whitty is said to believe that further restrictions are inevitable and new measures like the curfew will not be enough on their own to get the virus under control.
His deputies Jonathan Van Tam and Jenny Harries are also said to have expressed concerns that the PM's measures do not go far enough but the trio apparently backed Mr Johnson trying his more limited restrictions first.
Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, warned on Monday that the UK could hit 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and 200 plus daily deaths by November unless Britain changed course.
Some experts accused them of painting an overly negative picture.
Professor John Edmunds, a member Sage, said this morning that action had not been taken quickly enough back in March and that 'mistake' is about to be repeated by ministers.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I suspect we will see very stringent measures coming in place throughout the UK at some point, but it will be too late again.
'We will have let the epidemic double and double and double again until we do take those measures.
'And then we'll have the worst of both worlds, because then to slow the epidemic and bring it back down again, all the way down to somewhere close to where it is now or where it was in the summer will mean putting the brakes on the epidemic for a very long time, very hard – which is what we had to do in March because we didn't react quick enough in March, and so I think that we haven't learned from our mistake back then and we're unfortunately about to repeat it.'
Mr Raab said this morning there would always be the 'Goldilocks criticism – too much or too little' whenever new measures are announced.
But he said the Government was taking a 'balanced, targeted and proportionate approach' and insisted the four home nations had overwhelmingly taken a 'consistent' approach.
He told BBC Breakfast: 'There's always an evidence basis which we all look at, it's slightly different in the four parts of the UK, although actually overwhelmingly we've taken a consistent and common approach.
'We recognise that the devolved administrations have the authority to decide things in a slightly different way.'
In a dramatic televised address to the nation last night Mr Johnson said he was 'deeply, spiritually reluctant' to make new 'impositions, or infringe anyone's freedom'.
But he insisted the measures are necessary and hit out at his critics as he said: 'To those who say we don't need this stuff, and we should leave people to take their own risks, I say these risks are not our own. The tragic reality of having Covid is that your mild cough can be someone else's death knell.
'And as for the suggestion that we should simply lock up the elderly and the vulnerable – with all the suffering that would entail – I must tell you that this is just not realistic.
'Because if you let the virus rip through the rest of the population it would inevitably find its way through to the elderly as well, and in much greater numbers.'
Responding to the Prime Minister's address, Telford MP Lucy Allan questioning on Twitter whether the UK's 'collective health' was really at risk
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage blasted Mr Johnson's 'authoritarian' response to the coronavirus crisis
The Welsh Government has banned all alcohol sales across the whole country after 10pm in their own draconian coronavirus crackdown.
Pubs, cafes, restaurants and casinos in Wales must operate as table service only and close from 10pm, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced.
Off-licences including supermarkets will also be stopped from selling alcohol at the same time as part of new restrictions which come into force at 6pm tomorrow.
Mr Drakeford confirmed the measures as part of a televised address last night, following a similar announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Earlier on Tuesday, he told the Welsh Parliament that he would be encouraging people in Wales to only make essential journeys.
He said reducing the amount of journeys and meetings with others resulted in 'less danger' being posed to people.
The latest crackdown, which Mr Johnson said could last for six months, has sparked a growing Tory backlash amid rising anger over freedoms being taken away.
The decision to ditch the Government's back to work drive has caused major concerns because of fears for the future of struggling town and city centres.
Many Tory MPs are increasingly exasperated at the Government's handling of the crisis.
One Conservative figure told the FT: 'We told people to eat out, now we're telling them to eat in. We told people to go back to the office, now we're telling them to work from home.
'It's a total shambles and I can't see how people are going to understand it.'
Responding to the PM's grim address, Telford MP Lucy Allan questioned on Twitter whether the UK's 'collective health' was really at risk: 'Measures to tackle #covid must be proportionate to the risk. The virus is a serious threat to certain vulnerable groups.
'We must protect these groups with targeted measures. Shutting down society causes massive damage to health, lives, and livelihoods of the whole population.'
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage accused Mr Johnson of adopting an 'authoritarian' response to the coronavirus crisis.
He tweeted: 'The PM says we are a 'freedom loving country', but will fine you £10,000 and send the army in if he likes.
'This is authoritarian – I don't believe his promises on testing or the competence of the government.'
Boris's Covid crackdown bans late-night takeaways but allows deliveries, shuts pubs after 10pm but not gyms, and forces workers to stay home (if bosses decide they can): The new rules explained in full
By David Wilcock, Whitehall Correspondent for MailOnline
Boris Johnson apologetically took a hammer to Britons' social lives today as he reintroduced lockdown measures in England to last possibly six months to see off a second wave of coronavirus.
Pubs and other leisure and hospitality businesses like restaurants will face a 10pm curfew from Thursday.
People working in retail, those travelling in taxis, and staff