(CNN) — Coronavirus restrictions in England are “alas probably about to get tougher,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday, as the country battles to rein in a deadly surge in coronavirus infections.
In an interview on the BBC’s “The Andrew Marr Show,” Johnson was pressed over whether the restrictions currently in place in the worst-hit areas of England were doing enough, as hospitals fill up with Covid-19 patients.
“It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country, I’m fully fully reconciled with that,” Johnson said. “I bet the people of this country are reconciled to that,” he added.
Pressed to elaborate what those tougher restrictions might be, Johnson said: “There are obviously a range of tougher measures that we would have to consider. I don’t want to speculate, I’m not going to speculate now about what they would be.
“Clearly, school closures that we had to do in March is one of those things (…),” he added, as the controversy over the government’s mixed messages over schools reopening continues to dominate the headlines.
Echoing his warning on the same program in October last year, Johnson warned: “It is bumpy, and it’s going to be bumpy.”
But the Prime Minister insisted that by the spring the situation across the country should be improving as more people are vaccinated.
Under the current system, most of England falls under the toughest Tier 3 and Tier 4 restrictions — with the latter in place for all of London — with a strict stay-at-home message.
On Saturday, the UK recorded its highest daily rise in coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic, with a further 57,725 new coronavirus cases and 445 deaths. The country has been among the hardest hit in Europe, with more than 2.6 million infections in total and almost 75,000 deaths.
But some scientists have warned that stricter measures are needed if a new, more infectious variant of the virus, which has spread across London, southeast England and parts of Wales in particular, is to be brought under control.
UK health workers are preparing to reactivate seven emergency Covid-19 field hospitals as regular hospital wards come under increasing strain.
Some London hospitals are now almost two-thirds full with Covid-19 patients, President of the Royal College of Physicians Andrew Goddard said Saturday.
Both primary and secondary schools across London and some other parts of southeast England will remain closed for at least the next two weeks for in-person learning, except for the most vulnerable pupils and children of critical workers. The return of secondary school pupils has been delayed across England.