A new three-tier system of regional Covid-19 restrictions in England “is the right way forward”, Boris Johnson has said.
The PM told the House of Commons the policy “can bring down the virus” but that he did not rule out going further.
Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer again called for a “circuit-breaker” – a short, limited lockdown in England to bring the virus under control.
He said such a move was supported by government science advisers.
The PM said he hoped the three-tier system would “avoid the misery of a national lockdown”.
He added: “I rule out nothing of course in combating the virus, but we are going to do it with the local, the regional approach that can drive down and will drive down the virus, if it is properly implemented.”
It comes as Wales prepares to ban people from parts of the UK that have high rates of coronavirus from travelling to the country from 18:00 BST on Friday.
On Wednesday, a further 19,724 coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK, while 137 more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus.
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The new system has begun in England, with the Liverpool region the first to enter the highest alert level.
Most of the country is in the lowest tier – medium – but millions of people in the North and the Midlands face extra curbs on households mixing.
Schools, close-contact services and all retail outlets will remain open under basic measures, even in the highest alert areas.
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, schools will close from Monday and pubs and restaurants face new restrictions on Friday .
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has advised Scots against travelling to high risk areas of England as she singled out Blackpool as “associated with a large and growing number of Covid cases in Scotland”.
Sir Keir said a “circuit-breaker” would help buy time to “save lives, fix testing, and save the NHS”.
The Labour leader had called for its introduction on Tuesday , saying his proposal would keep schools open as normal by using the upcoming October half term.
However, he said it would mean that “all pubs, bars and restaurants would be closed” and compensated “so that no business loses out because of the sacrifices we all need to make”.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, he said Mr Johnson had rejected the advice of government science advisers, who had suggested a circuit breaker when they met on 21 September .
— bbc news