Concerns are rising across Europe as mounting cases are being reported in several areas. France has seen a significant rise in cases in recent weeks, with President Emmanuel Macron reminding the French public to strictly adhere to social distancing rules.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC radio this week: “We are very worried about it.
“But what I am also saying to you is that we have the lines of defence in this country.
“Everyone has a part to play: the first line of defence, social distancing, the next line of defence test and trace and then if we have to, going into local lockdowns.
“And we have the quarantine which is working.”
Mr Hancock warned last weekend that “extensive local lockdowns” might be needed in a reasonable worst-case scenario this autumn, or even further national action.
“A second wave is clearly visible in other parts of the world,” he said.
“It is a very serious threat. But so far in the UK we are managing to keep the number of new cases flat through a combination of test and trace and local lockdowns.”
Mr Hancock also said that social-distancing measures would remain for the “foreseeable” future, at least until a vaccine has been approved.
“I yearn to be able to remove the restrictions on social contact but those restrictions are absolutely necessary at the moment,” he added.
“We’ll be keeping them in place for the foreseeable. We hope for the best and we prepare for the worst.”
A small number of schools have also been closed in some regions.
Government guidelines say students aged 11 and older are required to wear masks in French schools.
France’s president has warned that he could not rule out another total lockdown but was hopeful it could be avoided if social distancing measures are rigorously enforced.
“We will do everything to avoid it, but if this virus continues to surprise us and our ‘test, trace and isolate’ measures are not enough, there might be — and we have to be very humble on this subject — new localised or nationwide lockdowns,” Mr Macron said on Friday last week.
Can I travel to France?
Currently, there are travel restrictions in place for travelling to France from the UK.
Quarantine rules are still in place for France, and all travellers returning to the UK must self isolate upon entering.
This means you won’t be able to leave the house, and children won’t be able to go back to school.
Travel arrangements are reviewed every Thursday, with announcements typically made around 5pm.
There are also entry restrictions in place for when UK travellers arrive in France, according to the FCO.
The FCO says: “Arrivals by sea and air routes will need to complete a ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with coronavirus and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight.”