Social distancing could be needed for most of 2020
Social distancing would need to be maintained during at least half of the year to stop intensive care units and the NHS from being overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, said government advisers.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) recommended alternating between more and less strict measures for most of 2020.
Strict measures include school closures and social distancing for everyone while less restrictive measures include isolating cases and households.
Documents prepared by Sage said alternating measures could "plausibly be effective at keeping the number of critical care cases within capacity".
The measures that would need to remain in force for a "long period" include general social distancing, school closures and household isolation, the advice says.
It would take two to three weeks for the impact of the measures to be felt in intensive care units, it added.
The advice comes after a statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which he said that the country could turn the tide on the coronavirus in just 12 weeks.
Schools in England, Scotland and Wales will close on Friday until further notice - except for vulnerable children and those with a parent identified as a key worker.
To help manage the situation in the NHS, as many as 65,000 retired doctors and nurses across the country have been asked to return to work.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser, said the evidence in the documents published on Friday has "played a considerable role in shaping our recommendations".
"The UK is home to experts who are at the forefront of their chosen fields and we are making full use of their expertise to grow our understanding of Covid-19 as we work tirelessly to tackle this disease."