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Pubs could be hit with a 10pm curfew in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The measure, which already applies in lockdown areas, could be rolled out nationwide over fears drinkers are failing to socially distance.
It comes as a raft of new restrictions are introduced in England today, with gatherings of more than six people banned.
A senior government source told the Daily Telegraph: "A national curfew is the obvious next step if the numbers keep rising despite all the steps we are currently taking.
"But we are not at that stage at the moment, and hopefully the action we are taking locally to contain outbreaks where they occur will mean we don't have to go that far."
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said that young people “getting together and enjoying themselves” were forgetting social distancing measures.
"I do think that what we're doing now is being clear about prioritising schools, colleges in the economy and making the point that while social occasions are important – and of course family social occasions are particularly important – they do take and they must take second place to those priorities."
The pub curfew was first introduced in Bolton, where boozers have to shut between 10pm and 5am.
Last week, sources said a full nationwide approach was unlikely.
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However, an insider yesterday told the Mirror Online that “we're not going to rule it out on a national level" and that it will be kept a “tool in the arsenal” if required.
The UK has witnessed a dramatic rise in coronavirus cases recently, owing to a rapid spread among younger age groups.
They increased by 3,330 on Sunday, with another five deaths all recorded in England.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new restrictions last week, amid claims the UK’s R rate – the speed at which the virus reproduces – is as high as 1.7.
Along with the “Rule of Six”, hospitality business will be legally required to take customers' details, and measures at the border will be stepped up to monitor quarantine rules.
Crime Minister Kit Malthouse told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that people should use the non-emergency contact number to report gatherings of more than six people to the police.
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He said: “If they are concerned and they do see that kind of thing then absolutely they should.”
He also discussed the government’s plan to roll out Covid marshals “across the country”.
National Police Chiefs' Council chairman Martin Hewitt told BBC Breakfast: "We will carry on enforcing these in the same way we have been doing this for what's now nearly six months.
"We're part of the group that are trying to explain to members of the public what the rules are and encouraging people to comply with them."
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