But in making such a detailed public statement, the chief medical officer turned all eyes to Mr Johnson, considering Britain’s precarious position.
A source close to Professor Whitty said: “Chris thinks you can’t have other foreclosure easements now without picking up on something else.
“Obviously, schools are a priority. But as far as he is concerned, it is not for him to decide what measures you reintroduce to allow this to happen – this is up to the ministers.
“But he’s very convinced that you can’t relax now unless you tighten up another bar to compensate. ”
A health official said on Friday that the deteriorating situation could lead to the closure of pubs in some areas in order to reduce transmission rates and make it safer to reopen schools. He said ministers were reluctant to make “general” moves to reverse recent easing but could not rule it out.
If infection rates continue to rise, measures will likely focus on local restrictions first. These could lead to the closure of pubs, restaurants or workplaces if surveillance data links them to outbreaks.
“This is really data driven,” the health official said. “If cases are fueled by household-to-household transmission in one part of the country, that is what will be targeted.
“If in another part of the country these are pubs that don’t enforce social distancing, then they could be closed, or particular workplaces could be closed, or we could see movements like those in the north. west occur elsewhere.
“There is a real reluctance to introduce blanket bans across the country, penalizing people from the southwest and preventing them from going to the pub because people from the northeast mix in households. ”
Above all, there is hope that fear of losing recently gained freedoms will be enough to improve compliance with current social distancing rules in order to bring down infection rates.
Boris Johnson said on Friday: “At this point we are not changing the rules on social contact nationally. I don’t mean to tell people to spend less time with their friends – but unless people follow the rules and behave safely, we may have to go further. “