Boris Johnson has urged the public to band together through winter to fight against the coronavirus.

The Prime Minister said there had been “too many breaches” of the rules and it was now time to toughen the restrictions to control the pandemic.

In his televised address this evening, he said that a “mild cough” for one person could be the “death knell” for another, and urged the public to stick to the new rules.

He said: “When the sickness took hold in this country in March, we pulled together in a spirit of national sacrifice and community.

“We followed the guidance to the letter. We stayed at home, protected the NHS, and saved thousands of lives.

 “And for months with those disciplines of social distancing we have kept that virus at bay.

 “But we have to acknowledge this this is a great and freedom-loving country; and while the vast majority have complied with the rules there have been too many breaches – too many opportunities for our invisible enemy to slip through undetected.

 “The virus has started to spread again in an exponential way. Infections are up, hospital admissions are climbing.”

He said that he was confident the public would want the government to protect them, adding that the “single greatest weapon we bring to this fight is the common sense of the people themselves”.

It came as a raft of new measures were introduced in England and in Scotland today, including pubs closing by 10pm and a renewed focus on home-working instead of travelling to work.

Nicola Sturgeon also went further with Scottish measures, banning visits to people’s homes unless for specific reasons, for example childcare or if a bubble has been formed with a single person living alone.

Mr Johnson added: “The tragic reality of having Covid is that your mild cough can be someone else’s death knell.

 “And as for the suggestion that we should simply lock up the elderly and the vulnerable – with all the suffering that would entail – I must tell you that this is just not realistic, because if you let the virus rip through the rest of the population it would inevitably find its way through to the elderly as well, and in much greater numbers.”

He said he was “spiritually reluctant” to impose restrictions on the freedom of the British people, but said it was essential to stop the spread of the disease.

Yesterday scientists warned that as many as 50,000 cases per day could be recorded in just six weeks if the spread continues as quickly as it is now.

Mr Johnson also stressed that if the public do not follow the new rules, the government “must reserve the right to go further.”

He warned: “ If we were forced into a new national lockdown, that would threaten not just jobs and livelihoods but the loving human contact on which we all depend.

 “It would mean renewed loneliness and confinement for the elderly and vulnerable, and ultimately it would threaten once again the education of our children. We must do all we can to avoid going down that road again.”

He concluded that “we must rely on our willingness to look out for each other, to protect each other” and said: “Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour.

“If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together. “There are unquestionably difficult months to come.”