The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has ordered officials to work-up a plan for avoiding a second national lockdown, according to reports.

As part of the plan, Mr Johnson is considering asking the elderly to shield once again and is mulling lockdown-like conditions for London should there be a second wave of coronavirus infections.

The claims come after the PM was forced to announce a slow down of the lockdown easing on Friday, with planned relaxations for the leisure and beauty sectors delayed after a rise in Covid-19 cases was recorded in areas across East Lancashire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, with prevalence in the community thought to be rising for the first time since May.

In a report in The Times and Sunday Times, Mr Johnson was said to have held talks with Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday to run through possible options for avoiding another nationwide lockdown that could stall any potential economic recovery.

Under the proposals, a greater number of people would be asked to take part in the shielding programme, based on their age or particular risk factors that have been identified since March.

This means, those aged between 50 and 70 could be given 'personalised risk ratings' in a move that would add to the 2.2 million who were deemed most vulnerable and asked to shield themselves from society during the spring peak.

The advice for people who have been shielding was only lifted on Saturday for those in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and remains in place until August 16 for those shielding in Wales.