"We don't want to bring on new restrictions but of course we keep a constant eye on what is going on with the COVID rate," Junior Health Minister Helen Whately told Sky News. "We were looking at what we might be able to do."
The Times newspaper said ministers were preparing to enforce a total social lockdown across much of northern England and potentially London. The paper said all pubs, restaurants and bars would be ordered to shut for two weeks.
Asked about The Times report, Whately said the country was at a really serious point and so COVID-19 had to be brought under control. She did not give a direct answer on the report that pubs would be closed.
"This is the moment when we have an opportunity - we have a choice for the country - to get this back under control," Whately said. "We have to break these chains of transmission."
She said pictures from the weekend, after pubs were ordered to close early which showed crowds of young revelers outside pubs, were "worrying".