Health secretary Matt Hancock has hinted pubs may be forced to close once again this weekend in response to the UK's recent surge in coronavirus cases.

In an interview on ITV'sThis Morning, Matt Hancock was asked whether Brits will be able to go to the pub this weekend by host Phillip Schofield.

The Health Secretary replied that an announcement will be made in the "very, very near future".

“We will be absolutely clear about the changes we need to make in the very, very near future,” Mr Hancock said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation on Tuesday amid mounting concern about the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock took part in a wide-ranging interview on ITV's This Morning

Mr Hancock said his answer on pubs was “not a no, and it’s not a yes”, adding: “We have been working on this all weekend, we haven’t taken the final decisions about what we need to do in response to the surge that we have seen in the last few weeks.”

Mr Hancock added: "I spoke to the Prime Minister this morning and he's as worried as we all are in the rise in the number of cases and we have to make a final decision about what's the best response to that."

In a wide-ranging interview, the health secretary also revealed he is sleeping fine at night as he is "doing everything he possibly can" to stop the spread of the deadly illness.

He also said he wanted Christmas to be "as normal as possible" and suggested that a vaccine may be widely available in early 2021.

Thousands of Brits headed out to the country's pubs this weekend

Asked by This Morning host Holly Willoughby whether we'll "be able to hug our grandparents this Christmas", Mr Hancock replied: "It depends how much we can control it now.

"If this runs out of control now, then we'll have to take heavier measures in the future. The more we can control it now by everybody doing that bit, including us - absolutely - but everybody together, then the easier it is going to be to have as normal a Christmas as possible."

But the health secretary warned that he hopes things will start to return to normal in summer 2021 – but only if a working vaccine is found.

Pubs may not be able to open next weekend

Hancock said: "If... one of the vaccines comes off, in the early bit of next year, we are looking, I hope, by next summer."

On the possibility of a vaccine, Mr Hancock said: "For the mass rollout we're talking about the first bit of next year, if all goes well.

"Hopefully in the first few months - there's still a chance of it coming on stream before Christmas, but we've then got to roll it out and the first people who will get it are the people who are most vulnerable - people in care homes, older people.

"There's a series of different vaccines, but we are talking about - essentially, for it to have an impact on how we live our lives - we're talking about the start of next year."

The UK is said to be at a “critical point” in the coronavirus crisis

Hancock suggested that any new restrictions would focus on social settings rather than schools or the workplace.

He said he wants to avoid school closures, telling This Morning: "The evidence is ... schools aren't where a lot of the transmission happens, it's more about people socialising."

He pointed out that there were already parts of the country where "there are measures in place to say that you shouldn't socialise with people outside your household".

Mr Hancock will update MPs on the latest coronavirus developments on Monday afternoon.

He will deliver an oral ministerial statement at around 3.30pm.

It comes as the UK’s chief scientists are reportedly due to warn Brits of a “critical point” in the coronavirus crisis.

Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance will publish the latest data on Covid-19 and tell people to prepare themselves for a “very challenging” winter, the Daily Mirror reports.

Supermarket bosses including Tesco and Sainsbury’s have also urged Brits not to panic buy as a second coronavirus wave threatens another nationwide lockdown.

Big chains are desperate to avoid panic buying - an issue all stores had the first time the UK shut up amid the pandemic.