The interventions came amid growing speculation that ministers will sign off on a new set of “super” Tier 3 measures this week in areas where Covid-19 transmission is highest, and where hospitals face becoming overwhelmed with patients.

Yesterday, there were a further 150 deaths from the virus, with a further 16,171 lab-confirmed cases. The total number of deaths in the UK now stands at 43,579.

No 10 insists that the new tiers system allows a regional approach in which areas with low prevalence of the virus can live life as normally as possible. Senior officials believe they are on the brink of a testing “explosion”, allowing a much greater use of mass testing following breakthroughs with new technology.

But, writing in The Telegraph, James Frayne, who has previously carried out focus group research for the Government, warns of a looming shift in public opinion, against further lockdowns. He also accused the Government of “playing down the obvious economic risks associated with harsher measures.”

His warning came as a poll by ORB International found that just 10 per cent of people believe the pandemic is under control in this country – a record low.

Mr Frayne, founding partner of the Public First policy research agency, states: “Opinion will shift fast with public realisation of the economic trauma set to befall us. Oddly, politicians have mostly kept this hidden from the public to date. 

“But when Government reduces personal and business support – as they must – people will see the direct trade-offs being made: essentially, health versus living standards. In this new world, the key polling question will be: ‘are you happy to pay a lot more in tax and risk your job for a national lockdown?’ For most, the answer will be a resounding no.”

Source: Telegraph