Government ministers Michael Gove and Matt Hancock were pushing for a full shutdown of hospitality, but Boris Johnson was swayed by appeals of the economic devastation that would cause by chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The Times reports that a consensus formed around the “radical option”, which could have been employed as a two-week so-called ‘circuit breaker’, but could also last indefinitely unless there was a marked reduction in transmission.

The plan was backed by advisers on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which was concerned that a 10pm curfew would simply cram drinkers in tighter during shorter opening hours.

The Times reports Johnson was initially in favour of the move. However the Treasury and senior business ministers feared a second lockdown could have “profound knock-on effects” for a post-coronavirus recovery.

Sunak reportedly appealed directly to the PM, asking him to limit new restrictions to those that were least economically damaging.

Johnson was sympathetic to the overture, with Priti Patel and Alok Sharma also siding with the chancellor.

The 10pm curfew, table service rule, and stricter enforcement powers was a compromise between the two positions: not as tough as Hancock and the scientists wanted, but stronger than Sunak desired.