Local authorities and hospitals are scrambling to find extra intensive care beds as the country braces or a second wave.
Isolation units are being set up in hospitals to make room for patients in other wards as the cases pile up across the country.
A two week timeframe has been given to health bosses to get the beds ready.
The move to equip hospitals comes as the government looks to adopt an ‘escalation framework’, The Telegraph reports.
It will work on a traffic like basis, with mandatory mask wearing brought in at amber.
Do you have a coronavirus story to share? Email [email protected]
This suggests that face coverings will become a legal necessity in even more places than they currently are.
Religious gatherings may also be restrictred.
Areas in the red zone will be placed into local lockdown.
Family visits to care homes are expected to be stopped as well.
At present the number of people in hospitals suffering from the coronavirus is low.
Bolton only has two Covid-19 patients in hospital, despite having the highest rate of infections in the country.
Care chiefs in London have been told to make more ‘step down’ beds available so patients no longer needing hospital care won’t take up ward space.
One MP told The Telegraph: “The rate of infection is going up, and I was told hospitals have reserved beds for people coming out of hospital who need somewhere to recover.
“At the start of lockdown they were having to send people back to care homes or back to other facilities, with dire consequences, so they’ve booked places in respite care or empty care homes.”
A former minister added: “The effort is being made to step up capacity so that if there is a second spike the NHS doesn’t fall so far behind with other types of care.
It is likely that disused care homes will be drafted in to provide extra bed space, while NHS Nightingale Hospitals will also be used.
In a sign of the rising coronavirus rates in parts of the country 10 million people will be placed in local lockdown from midnight tonight.
Earlier today Matt Hancock confirmed the sweeping changes in a Commons statement, including a 10pm to 5am curfew for pubs and restaurants and a ban on meeting anyone outside your household or support bubble.
Hospitality for food and drink will be restricted to table service only.
Tougher rules will affect Northumberland, Newcastle, Sunderland, North and South Tyneside, Gateshead and County Durham council areas, where rates of coronavirus have been on the rise.
The Health Secretary said the battle against coronavirus “is not over” and further action was needed as winter approaches.