Eight thousand private hospital beds will be used to relieve pressure on the NHS as it battles the coronavirus crisis.
They will be rented as the Government steps up its fight against the disease. Troops will be mobilised in three weeks to keep the country running.
People aged over 70 will be told to stay in strict isolation for four months, reports said tonight.
And as the US banned flights from the UK, planes en route to Spain had to turn around in mid-air today.
The drastic move – as the UK coronavirus death toll hit 21 – could be enforced within 20 days to save lives and prevent the NHS “falling over”.
Other measures reportedly being considered include the requisitioning of hotels and other buildings as temporary hospitals, leasing of up to 8,000 private hospital beds and a huge increase in supply of respirators.
Pubs, bars and restaurants could close – along with schools.
A senior government source told ITV’s Robert Peston that Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance are waiting for the optimal time to introduce the measures.
PM Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are said to be counting on neighbours and friends to rally round to make sure no one is neglected.
“We are looking for a huge community effort,” said a source.
Talks have also begun with Uber and Deliveroo about taking food to the old and vulnerable.
“Everything is aimed at making sure the NHS is not overwhelmed, to save lives and to prevent hideous choices being made,” the source added.
Army hospitals will be used and lockdowns of cities or parts of cities have not been ruled out, ITV claimed.
The reports came as it emerged the PM is ordering the NHS to spend up to £2.4million a day on private beds.
He has also told health equipment firms to move heaven and earth to churn out as many life-saving ventilators as they can.
And with 1,140 UK cases and 10 more deaths in just 24 hours, Britain is now moving on to a wartime footing.
Gatherings of 500 or more people could be banned this week.
Troops are on standby to help keep the UK functioning if the crisis reaches what the Army dubs “peak virus” – expected in three to five weeks.
Under the codename Operation Rescript, Lieutenant-General Tyrone Urch, 54, has drawn up plans to keep supermarket shelves full and petrol stations open.
Hundreds of Army drivers could be drafted in to keep the nation supplied with food and fuel.
Other service personnel will be brought in to work with the emergency services if sickness depletes their numbers.
Royal Military Police could help support local constabularies, while troops may drive ambulances and fire engines.
In Italy, where the death toll yesterday rose 175 to 1,441, soldiers manned borders to stop vehicles entering from France – in scenes which could be replicated here.
The plan to pay £300 a day for private beds followed demands earlier yesterday by Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth and the GMB union.
They said the PM must requisition private beds to ease pressure on the NHS.
The 128,000 overnight beds in NHS hospitals are expected to be overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.
And there are 570 private hospitals in the UK and around 8,000 beds available in the private sector.
Mr Ashworth said: “The PM said this is the worst public health crisis for a generation.
It would be completely wrong for the Government not to call on all the resources possible.”
A deal has already been done with private health provider Spire, which has 39 private hospitals across the UK.
GMB General Secretary Tim Roache added: “It can’t be right that we have plush private hospitals lying empty waiting for the wealthy to fall ill, while people are left dying in hospitals for the want of a bed.”
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The scale of the challenge we face means we can’t do this alone.
We need every part of society and every industry to ask what they can do to help the effort.”
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said: “We are dealing with a very fast- moving epidemic. Scientists across the world are helping each other, governments and society to deal with this emergency.”
The Unipart Group is already answering the call to provide extra ventilators as soon as possible.
Chairman John Neill said: “This is a critical initiative.
There are a lot of talented people already working at great speed on this.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice will meet retail bosses again on Monday to thrash out more measures to keep food supplies moving.
Face-to-face Brexit talks in London this week have been cancelled and will now have to take place remotely.
At least 13 MPs have self-isolated, including Tory Andrew Bridgen.
Yesterday Mr Bridgen, 55, who has an 18-month-old son, said he had been promised a test but was still waiting 72 hours later.
He added: “I’m never ill but I feel really rough now. I’m at one end of the house and my family at the other.
It’s heartbreaking when my baby is crying for me and I can’t go to him.”
Security Minister James Brokenshire is self-isolating after meeting with Australian Interior Minister Peter Dutton, who tested positive.
Most sport has been cancelled for weeks but soccer matches in the National League went ahead today.
One Ebbsfleet fan wore a ventilator mask as he joined drinkers for a pint before their 1-0 win at Halifax Town. In London, tourists were still out – with one man spotted adjusting a child’s face mask outside Buckingham Palace.
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