Pubs may be shut across England by the weekend, it is feared, after Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused rule out further lockdown restrictions.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning, the Health Secretary was asked yesterday whether landlords would be told to shut.

“We will be absolutely clear about the changes we need to make in the very, very near future,” Mr Hancock said.

“It’s not a no, and it’s not a yes,” he said.

He also said that we must act now to save Christmas. “The more we can control the virus now and stop the spread now, the easier it’s going to be to have a Christmas that’s as close to normal as possible,” he said.

However manager of the Phoenix Tap in Maryport, Kathryn Morrison said: "I don't think closing the pubs would make much difference and we should be allowed to stay open.

"There are not that many cases in Cumbria so we should not have to shut."

Landlord of the Black Bull in Lockerbie, Ian McLatchie, said: "I don't know what to think - we don't know whether we are coming or going.

The move came before Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance announced in a conference to the nation that there could be as many as 50,000 cases a day in mid-October if the trend continues at the rate it is.

Sir Patrick Vallance said the “vast majority of the population remain susceptible” to catching coronavirus and the current situation required swift action to bring the case numbers down.

In a televised press conference together with England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick said there was “no doubt” the UK was in a situation where the numbers were increasing among all age groups.

He said: “At the moment, we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.”

This means there could be as many as 200 deaths a day in November.

Professor Whitty said there was a need to “break unnecessary links” between households and there was a need to “change course”.

He said: “There is no evidence that the virus has become weaker.

“Infections are not just remaining amongst the young. They are going up the age groups.

“Seasonal flu normally kills about 7,000 people a year. But this virus is more virulent.”