Night-time curfews on pubs and restaurants in London could be introduced if Covid-19 cases spiral over the winter, a Public Health England (PHE) director has suggested.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London director for PHE, said everyone was working to avoid lockdowns across the capital.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, he said: “Before we get to that stage there are many other things that you can do in order to help to reduce the risk of transmission and contain your outbreak.

“In some areas which have seen resurgence there have been limits placed on the amount of time you can spend socialising.

“In some it might be local curfews so you’re not out drinking until the wee hours of the morning.

“By limiting that you also limit the amount of time people are spending in close contact with others.”

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Coronavirus infection rates has risen in many London boroughs. Photo: Simon Dawson/PA

Prof Fenton also pointed to other measures, such as increasing the promotion of mask-wearing, stronger public health warnings and more focus on making workplaces Covid-secure.

He said: “We will work with our London partners to identify what’s the best approach, and some of that might be intensifying activity at borough and sub-regional levels, and for a few things it may require a pan-London approach, just because of how feasible it is to implement some of those interventions.”

Prof Fenton said London was seeing the same problems with access to tests as elsewhere, and pointed to the return of university students in the coming weeks, which could lead to increases in infection rates.

“We expect more than 500,000 students to be returning to the city over the next few weeks,” he said.

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He said around 10 London boroughs have coronavirus rates of 30 cases per 100,000 population over a seven-day rolling average.

Downing Street did not deny reports that curfews were being considered to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Asked about reports that a curfew could be introduced in London, a Number 10 spokesman said: “We will continue to keep the transmission rate under review.

“We’ve introduced the rule of six to try and bear down on the transmission rate given that it has risen recently.

“But as I say we will keep that data and the scientific evidence under review.”