Multiple Government scientists today warned that social distancing and masks must be reinstated to prevent a’meltdown during winter’ and save Christmas.

They stated that the current rate of infection was unacceptable and claimed that vaccines alone weren’t enough to control Covid during colder months.

It is despite the fact that No10’s modellers are growing optimistic, stating that daily cases could drop to just 5,000 next year due to natural immunity and booster shots.

Professor Peter Openshaw, who is a member of a powerful subcommittee within SAGE, stated that enacting “Plan B” now would be a sensible safeguard that’s not very disruptive.

Professor Adam Finn, who advises Ministers on Covid jabs took it a step further by claiming that compulsory masks and other curbs are needed ‘to control things’.

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has said that a “normal Christmas” will be celebrated this year provided that vulnerable Britons and those over 50 get their booster vaccinations.

During a round interview this morning: “The facts right now is that we don’t believe the data requires us move to Plan B.”

Ministers have taken comfort from the unusually optimistic SAGE modeling, which predicts that the epidemic will shrink or stay well below previous waves this winter.

The Government's winter contingency plans include bringing back masks and working from home. A lockdown has been described as an absolute 'last resort'

The Government’s winter contingency plans also include the return of masks and the ability to work from home. A lockdown is considered the absolute ‘last resort’.

Calls for Plan B come after No10's modellers estimated daily cases could plummet to just 5,000 next month due to growing natural immunity and booster jabs. These charts show the impact of returning to normal level of social mixing in three weeks time (top), three months (bottom), and the impact this would have on infections (left), admissions (middle) and deaths (right). The models show cases plummeting by November thanks to natural immunity but rising in spring when vaccine protection is expected to wane

After No10’s modelers predicted that daily cases would plummet to just 5,500 next month, due to natural immunity and booster jabs, Plan B is being sought. These charts show the impact on infections of returning to a normal level of social interaction in three weeks (top), three month (bottom) and the effect this would have on admissions (middle), deaths (right). The models show cases dropping by November thanks to natural immunity, rising in spring due to vaccine protection expected to decrease, and then plummeting again by November.

Professor Openshaw, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said it would be prudent to go with Plan B now. 

He told BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme: ‘I don’t think it’s a binary go for Plan B or nothing, it’s very clear that the measures that are in included in Plan B are sensible and not very disruptive

“It’s not difficult to give clear leadership regarding the use of facial masks, and working from home if possible is also not disruptive for many people.

“Those measures are likely lead to a pretty significant reduction in the really unacceptable amount of cases we have at the moment.

‘To my mind, the introduction of vaccine passports is also fine – it’s been accepted very easily in most other western European countries.

“It’s very sensible to know that everyone in crowded indoor spaces has been fully vaccinated. Perhaps they have had a quick test on the day. You’d feel more comfortable going into that space.”

It comes as a record 325,000 people got their booster jab in a single day, while more than 800,000 people over three days had a third jab as queues again formed at centres across the country

It’s a record 325,000 people who got their booster jab in one day. More than 800,000 people received a third jab over three days. Queues recurred at centres across the country as more people waited to get their booster jab.

Professor Openshaw said: “What we’re facing right now is unacceptable. We’ve got about one in 55 people infected. This is an astonishingly high number compared to other west European countries.

“This is related to the lack clear messaging about the sensible steps that we should all take to reduce the spread infection.”

After Professor Finn, a member of JCVI (Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation), had made a case on Sunday for Plan B, his comments were heard.

Sky News interview: He stated that he would “like to re-emphasise” the fact that the vaccine alone might not suffice to protect the NHS this winter. 

“We need to have people using the lateral flow tests, avoiding contact in enclosed spaces with large numbers of people, and using masks if we are going to stop the rise and get things under control quickly enough to prevent a meltdown in winter.”

SAGE-affiliated experts from other fields have publicly lobbied to the Government for Plan B. They warned that it could be sleepwalking into another crisis.  

The Health Secretary, however, expressed optimism today and said that there was nothing in the Covid data that should cause panic.

When asked if Christmas is safe, he said to LBC Radio that he believes it is. As long as everyone does what they need to do, everyone has a part to play.

“We all want a wonderful Christmas, and we can make it happen by getting out there and getting our vaccinations.”

Mr Javid stated that individuals should be able to take sufficient precautions to get through winter without restrictions.

He added: ‘It’s getting darker, we can see it’s getting colder, we will spend more time indoors, and so we should think about hand hygiene, about getting tested regularly, especially if you’re going to meet your more vulnerable… perhaps an elderly relative or someone – so if we can do all that, I’m sure that we’re going to have a great Christmas.’

Mr Javid said that he did not want to move to Plan B right now and added: “The facts are that we don’t believe the data requires us move to Plan B. 

‘I think it’s right and proper that we set out what those contingency measures… what Plan B would look like and the criteria (on) whether we move or not, but, right here and now, it remains the right plan, but again, I couldn’t appeal more strongly to people to play their part in Plan A, and top of the list, as I say, are the vaccines.’