BORIS Johnson last night backed his Plan A of vaccine boosters to save winter — but warned tougher measures may be needed to avoid another lockdown.
Masks, working from home and vaccine passports are being kept in reserve to be deployed if Covid hospital admissions rocket as the winter bites, the PM warned.
He vowed with these restrictions in the toolbox, Brits can have “confidence that we don’t need to go back to the lockdowns of the past”.
His Plan A is to launch a vaccine blitz of boosters and teenage jabs to build up the “wall of protection”, without the need for any restrictions.
But as the PM was pinning his hopes on Britain’s vaccine arsenal, gloomy scientists were already urging him to press go on more draconian measures.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said he must go “hard and early” if hospitals start filling up.
And Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty warned: “Winter is coming, and people should still take this seriously.”
But Tory MPs and businesses urged Boris to “trust in our jabs” and stick to Plan A, or risk fresh misery for high streets and a mutiny in the Commons.
Speaking in Downing Street flanked by the two medical experts, Boris said Britain is in an “incomparably” better place this winter than last thanks to the vaccine.
And over the coming weeks, 30million people will be offered booster jabs of Moderna or Pfizer.
Millions of 12 to 15-year-olds will also get the jab to stop classes from becoming super spreading centres.
The PM last night begged the five millions adults who have not taken up the offer of a jab to “join the club” and get vaccinated.
He said thanks to vaccines, the hated lockdowns have ended and freedoms restored.
The PM went on: “The result of this vaccination campaign is we have one of the most free societies and one of the most open economies in Europe. That’s why we’re now sticking with our strategy.”
But he warned he will reach into his armoury and bring back compulsory face masks, the work from home order and controversial vaccine passports if he needs to.
He said: “You wouldn’t necessarily play them all at once, far from it. You would want to do things in a graduated way.
“We’re now in a situation where, because so many of the population have some degree of immunity, smaller changes in the way we’re asking people to behave can have a bigger impact.”
But Sir Patrick said the UK is at a “pivot point” and ministers must “go early and hard” if NHS hospital beds fill up.
He said: “You can’t wait until it’s late because then you’ve got to do more.”
Prof Whitty said No10 may have to use Plan B within weeks.
He warned: “It is possible that the combination of winter events plus the Delta variant could lead to a situation where ministers decided they wanted to trigger all or some of Plan B.”
But Tory former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “This idea we need to go back to face masks and working from home is bonkers.
“We should be trusting in our jabs. They work.”
Kate Nicholls, of UKHospitality, which represents pubs and clubs, said: “We need to stick to Plan A for the good of the economy”.
Covid cases fell to the lowest for a fortnight yesterday, dropping by nearly a third in a week to 26,628.
Deaths were also lower and fell 11 per cent in a week to 185.
Professor Chris Whitty last night said the Covid situation has stabilised.
But the number of people in hospital with Covid was up 5 per cent in a week with 8,413 across the UK.