Plans are being drawn up for a two-week circuit breaker lockdown after Christmas which would include a ban on mixing indoors, it has been reported.
Draft regulations are being prepared which would ban meeting others inside except for work purposes, while pubs and restaurants would be limited to outdoor service only, according to The Times.
The newspaper quoted allies of the Prime Minister who claimed Mr Johnson still wanted to go down the guidance route, but that he also had to be realistic about the threat of Omicron.
Leaked minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), seen by the BBC, reportedly said scientists had told ministers that tougher measures need to be brought in ‘very soon’.
Advisers are said to have recommended moving to restrictions seen in step one and two of the easing of lockdown measures in the spring, including a ban on indoor mixing and indoor hospitality.
And they reportedly warned against delaying further interventions until the New Year.
The UK reported more than 90,000 new Covid cases on Friday – the third consecutive day the record daily tally was surpassed.
A government spokesperson said: ‘The Government will continue to look closely at all the emerging data and we’ll keep our measures under review as we learn more about this variant.’