Rishi Sunak has rejected calls for the government to “immediately” introduce its Plan B for controlling Covid, amid mounting concern over rising infection levels ahead of Christmas.
Healthcare leaders including the NHS Confederation and the British Medical Association (BMA) have urged the government to introduce tighter restrictions to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.
The Observer reported that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) contacted local authorities on Friday to canvass their level of support for the “immediate rollout of the winter plan – Plan B”.
The Plan B contingency includes re-introducing working-from-home guidance and the mandatory use of face masks.
Watch: Chancellor ignores questions about Covid plan B
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Sunak said: “At the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B”.
“The prime minister actually just said that we’re looking at the data all the time, as you would expect us too.
The chancellor said the “priority” for the government at the moment was the booster jab rollout.
Those eligible for boosters include anyone aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly, and frontline health and social care workers.
Scientific advisers have told the government it must ensure Plan B restrictions to tackle coronavirus can be “rapidly” deployed if needed.
Experts on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said, in minutes of a meeting published on Friday, that a further huge spike in infections as seen in January was “increasingly unlikely”, as experts predicted a series of broader, flatter peaks as the virus continues to spread.
However, in its meeting dated October 14, Sage warned measures from the Plan B would have greatest effect if brought in in unison and earlier on rather than later.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.