Following an increase in coronavirus cases across the country, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed a second national lockdown is 'on the table'.

Nearly two million people in North East England were among the latest to face local lockdown rules which came into force on Friday.

This comes after news that cases of the virus appear to be doubling every week, with over 3,300 new cases reported on Thursday.

While a further national lockdown has been described by the government as the 'last line of defence', the possibility of everyone around the country once again facing restrictions is real.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

However, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has hinted that a short period of country-wide rules dubbed a 'circuit break' could be announced within the next week.

Under the 'circuit break', tighter restrictions could be introduced once again in certain public spaces over the course of a few weeks.

SAGE, the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies have suggested that parts of the hospitality industry could be asked to close.

Ministers are also considering limiting the opening hours of restaurants and pubs, similar to areas already in a local lockdown like Bolton which had a 10pm 'curfew' imposed on hospitality venues.

One aspect of national life that will not change though is the function of schools and workplaces which would be kept open throughout the 'circuit break' period.

Currently the nation is subject to the 'rule of six' which came into effect on Monday, banning gatherings of more than six people.

It is unknown if a second national lockdown would further escalate meeting restrictions to be in line with local rules where meeting people in other households is banned.

As each country in the United Kingdom is in charge of their own lockdown restrictions, it is likely the potential 'circuit break' scenario will primarily apply to those living in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to be deeply reluctant to order another full lockdown, where everyone would be asked to stay at home and businesses to close.

Earlier this week he described the potential impact of a second national lockdown on the economy as "disastrous".

The previous lockdown ordered in March greatly restricted what members of the public could and couldn't do, with people only permitted to leave their homes for specific reasons such as one form of exercise and essential shopping.