The government would consider an Italian-style lockdown if people fail to follow advice to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis, a senior minister has said.

Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, failed to rule out bringing in stricter enforcement measures to keep the public at home amid reports of crowds in parks and at seaside resorts.

It comes as Boris Johnson urged people to resist visiting their parents on Mother’s Day, warning the Covid-19 outbreak is “accelerating”.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

GPs are writing to more than 1.5 million people with underlying health conditions to urge them to stay at home for up to three months, with military planners drafted in to help local support systems.

“We want to live in a free society where we can continue to go about activities whilst following the medical advice. But this isn’t a game, it is very serious,” Mr Jenrick told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“If people don’t follow that advice we’ll clearly have to follow other options, but none of us want to go down that route.”

He said the images from Italy were “sobering” and urged Britons to follow the medical advice to help “turn the tide” on the coronavirus crisis.

In a direct message to vulnerable people who should stay home, Mr Jenrick said: “We want you to know that you might be staying at home for a long period of time but you will not be alone.

“We are doing to do whatever it takes to support you.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan issued a stark warning to the public to stay at home, warning that people will die if social distancing rules are flouted.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Life has changed, we have got to do things differently for a while now. Social interaction leads to the disease spreading, leads to people dying.

“Don’t leave your home unless you really, really have to.”