Boris Johnson says military personnel could be used to support police and local authorities, as the UK reaches a "perilous turning point" in the battle against the coronavirus.
Addressing MPs in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, the prime minister said: "We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free-up the police."
A spokesperson for the prime minister added: "To further free-up the police to have a greater presence on our streets they will have the option to draw on military support, where required, using tried and tested mechanisms.
"This would involve the military backfilling certain duties, such as office roles and guarding protected sites, so police officers can be out enforcing the virus response.
"This is not about providing any additional powers to the military, or them replacing the police in enforcement roles, and they will not be handing out fines. It is about freeing up more police officers."
On Monday, the defence secretary said Armed Forces personnel have been offered to the government "on a regular basis", adding: "We have already started planning for any second eventuality.
"I'm confident that the men and women will be able to deliver whatever demands are put on government," Ben Wallace continued.
In a tweet, the Ministry of Defence said: "The military have well-rehearsed contingency plans in place to support police services, with 500 military personnel now available to backfill armed guarding duties if required by the Home Office.
"The military will not be undertaking any public order or enforcement activities."
UK Armed Forces personnel have played a key role in the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the peak of the military's response to COVID-19, 20,000 troops were at readiness, with more than 4,000 of them deployed at any one time.
Their role included assisting the NHS by helping set up Nightingale hospitals, operating mobile testing sites and delivering personal protective equipment (PPE).
Cover image: MOD.