There is “absolutely nothing to indicate” the country will be plunged into Covid lockdowns in winter, Boris Johnson has insisted.
The PM spoke at the end of a week that saw rising Covid cases hit 50,000 in one day and increased scrutiny on its “Plan B” contingency.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has said the Government will not need those measures – which could see the return of mandatory mask-wearing, work from home guidance and lockdowns – for now.
Asked on Friday if stay at home advice, the closure of shops and a full lockdown was out of the question in the colder months, Mr Johnson said: “I’ve got to tell you at the moment that we see absolutely nothing to indicate that that’s on the cards at all.”
Earlier this week, Mr Javid warned cases could hit 100,000 a day.
The Government hopes that enough protection from the virus has been built up through vaccinations and it has encouraged young people to get their doses and older people to receive their boosters.
There are worries the colder months, which bring increased indoor mixing and usually see a spike in flu cases, could put heavy pressure on the NHS.
On Friday, it emerged that scientists advising on the coronavirus response have cautiously predicted it is “increasingly unlikely” that hospital admissions this winter will rise above the peak seen last January.
Mr Javid said: “We wont be implementing our Plan B of contingency measures at this point but we’ll be staying vigilant, preparing for all eventualities while strengthening our vital defences that can help us fight back against this virus.”
On Thursday, Downing Street also batted away suggestions of a “Plan C” and dismissed speculation of a potential contingency that would see a ban on households mixing at Christmas.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I’ve seen the reporting this morning about household mixing – it’s important to stress that neither ministers nor officials are working on these proposals. That is not accurate.”