At least one council has already told some of its schools that it would support them to move to online learning only for the last week of term.
But senior sources at the Department for Education (DfE) have warned schools and councils that it would be prepared to apply for High Court injunctions to force them to stay open.
It comes as mass coronavirus testing is being rolled out at secondary schools in parts of London, Kent and Essex in a bid to keep them open in the coming weeks.
Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans
GERMANY: COVID CASES RISE BY 28,438 - TOTAL NOW 1.3 MILLION
Germany has recorded 28,438 new coronavirus cases, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
The new figure brings the total number of cases in the country to 1,300,516.
The reported death toll rose by 496 to 21,466, the tally also showed.
CHRISTMAS EASING OF RESTRICTIONS A 'MISTAKE WHICH WILL HAVE CONSEQUENCES, HEALTH EXPERT WARNS
Relaxing coronavirus restrictions throughout the UK over Christmas is a "mistake" which will have "consequences", a public health expert has said.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said she was concerned about people travelling from areas with high infections to parts of the country with lower prevalence of the virus.
The UK Government and devolved administrations have agreed a joint plan to relax social distancing rules for five days over the festive period, between December 23 and 27, allowing friends and family to hug for the first time in months.
But Prof Bauld told BBC Breakfast: "From a public health perspective, I have to be perfectly honest, I think this is a mistake. I think people have to think very carefully whether they can see loved ones outside, or do it in a very modest way.
"I'm also concerned about the travel, people going from high to low-prevalence areas. I think it's going to have consequences."
STATS: WHERE DID CASES RISE THE MOST IN ENGLAND?
Data from Public Health England shows where cases rose the most in the week to December 6.
The data is shown as the name of the place, the cases per 100,000 and the per cent change:
WELSH GOV 'PREPARED' TO SEE 'RANGE OF PEOPLE IGNORE RULES' DURING CHRISTMAS
Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government could theoretically break the agreement between Westminster and devolved administrations to relax social distancing rules for five days over the festive period, but added it would cause a loss of trust.
He said: "There are huge issues here about trust in the government.
"If we were to upset those rules we would lose lots of trust from a large number of people who have stuck with us and we would also see I'm afraid a range of people prepared to ignore the rules.
"Even with the agreement in place we're likely to see a number of people go beyond that anyway.
"That's why we are anticipating an increase after Christmas and why I expect there will be an increase after New Year's Eve as well."
COMMUNITY CORONAVIRUS TESTING TO BE ROLLED OUT IN TIER 3 AREAS
Councils under England's toughest coronavirus restrictions are to roll out quick result community testing programmes in a bid to cut Covid-19 transmission rates this winter.
An initial wave of some 67 local authorities for Tier 3 areas have received Government approval for testing schemes to help put them on a path towards relaxing local measures.
As part of the Government's Covid winter plan, more than 1.6 million rapid turnaround lateral flow tests would be delivered for use this month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the enhanced testing programmes follow a successful pilot in Liverpool and will be a "vital additional tool" in finding asymptomatic cases.
Experts have previously suggested relying on rapid tests that give a result in minutes could mean a high proportion of cases are missed with false negative results.
AGE UK SAYS NOT ALL CARE HOMES ARE 'KEEN' TO RESUME VISITING HOURS
Caroline Abrahams, director of the Age UK charity, told Breakfast: "Not all care homes are as keen on getting visiting going.
"Some of the big chains are more risk-averse. Probably partly because they have got their insurance breathing down their necks.
"We have heard some people say 'why don't we wait until the vaccine comes?'
"That would mean another really lengthy delay for families and older people."
She added the charity's research has revealed a "horrible" amount of "heartbreak and suffering" because of families being kept apart.
CARE DIRECTORS SAY GOV NEEDS TO MAKE FASTER PROGRESS IN GETTING RAPID COVID TESTS TO CARE HOMES
The Government needs to make swifter progress in getting rapid coronavirus tests to care homes to allow visits in time for Christmas, care directors have said.
Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group and boss of four care homes in North Yorkshire, said face-to-face indoors visits were being delayed.
He told BBC Breakfast: "We haven't had all the tests delivered yet. We want to get visiting up and running as soon as possible but time is running out because Christmas is a short time away.
"It's quite a laborious exercise, we've got to be trained, each test takes 45 minutes to an hour to do.
"I fear some people will be disappointed, even if we started today and I did 20 visits a day I still wouldn't get through to everyone by Christmas. We will somehow reunite people as much as we can."
JAPAN: 621 NEW COVID CASES RECORDED IN TOKYO
Tokyo reported 621 new coronavirus cases Saturday, setting a new record in the capital where a lack of government measures triggered concerns about a surge during the holiday season.
Nationwide, Japan reported a total of 174,000 cases, with about 2,500 deaths.
Experts on a Tokyo metropolitan task force say serious cases are on the rise, putting burdens on hospitals and forcing many of them to scale back on care for other patients.
Japan issued a non-binding state of emergency in the spring and has survived earlier infection peaks without a lockdown.
SOUTH KOREA REPORTS 950 NEW COVID CASES IN LARGEST EVER DAILY INCREASE
South Korea has reported 950 new coronavirus cases, the largest daily increase since the emergence of the pandemic, as fears grow about overwhelmed hospitals in the greater capital area.
The figures released Saturday brought the countrys caseload to 41,736, after health officials added more than 8,900 cases in the last 15 days alone. Six COVID-19 patients died in the past 24 hours to bring the death toll to 578.
Nearly 680 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where health workers have struggled to track transmissions popping up from just about everywhere, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants, saunas, schools and army units.
Infections were also reported in other major urban centers, including Busan, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan and Daegu, a southeastern city that was the epicenter of the spring outbreak.
AS MANY AS 40% OF CARE WORKERS COULD OPT OUT OF COVID VACCINE
Nadra Ahmed, chairman of the National Care Association, said as many as 40% of carers could opt not to have a Covid-19 vaccine.
She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We know that between 50-60%, depending on individual services, the staff are actually saying they will definitely have the vaccine and are very keen.
"We understand between about 17-20% of staff in services are saying they definitely won't have it, and then you have the rest who are waiting to see.
"So we are looking at potentially 40% who decide not to have it."
Put to her that this was a "huge" number of care workers, Ms Ahmed replied: "It certainly is, however I do think people will start to change their minds as the vaccine becomes more readily available and they see colleagues having it.
"I think the uncertainty rests somewhere around fear but then also there are people with conditions who are being advised not to have it, so th
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