The environment secretary, George Eustice, said the government has introduced tiered restrictions for local areas in a “timely way” and a national lockdown is “not appropriate”.
Speaking on Times Radio, he said: “In some ways we’ve always anticipated that there would be a second spike.
“That’s why we have been monitoring the situation closely since September, introducing, in a timely way, restrictions that are appropriate to the level of prevalence in particular parts of the country with these three different levels of intervention.
“And we’re adding to that all the time, so yesterday Warrington was put into the very high risk area, and there’s discussions now about Nottingham.
“So we’re trying to intervene in things in a proportionate way across the country, but we don’t think it’s appropriate to have a national lockdown, because there’s parts of the country, like Cornwall, where the incidence of the disease is actually very low.”