Authorities across the country have urged people in their regions to work from home and reimpose the wearing of masks in schools to fight the spread of Covid.
Residents of Liverpool, Windsor and Suffolk are among those who have been told local public health teams to follow tougher measures amid concerns over Covid rates.
Earlier this week, the UK recorded more than 50,000 cases in a single day for the first time since July, while average daily Covid hospitalizations in England hit their highest level in almost eight months.
The government has so far resisted calls from NHS bosses to implement Plan B, a stricter set of Covid measures to tackle the coronavirus that includes compulsory mask wear and a call for work from home.
But local councils have taken action amid rising cases and fears of a winter crisis.
Liverpool City Council has advised residents to work from home where they can, while secondary school students are urged to wear face masks in common areas of schools except classrooms.
“With Covid-19 infections on the rise and health and welfare services already under exceptional pressure, we are facing a very difficult winter,” said Matthew Ashton, local director of public health.
“We also expect that there may be high levels of the flu before Christmas. “
He added: “Now is the time for us to take additional measures locally to avoid a winter crisis, so that we can maintain our essential services. “
“We urge school principals to implement these improved measures, beyond current government guidelines, as soon as possible,” local public health officials said.
Bolton council urged schools to consider tougher Covid measures early this week, including indoor face masks for students in Grades 7 and up, as well as virtual assemblies.
Walsall schools have also been asked to consider bringing back face masks for older students in common areas, and for the reintroduction of “bubbles” – where children are kept in groups to limit mixing with others – in the younger years.
Stephen Gunther, Walsall’s director of public health, said: “With Covid-19 cases high again in Walsall – including those under the age of 19 – we believe the time has come for schools to restore Covid security measures. “
The Suffolk Council also asked schools this week to have students and staff wearing face masks on site.
Government says local public health directors may advise schools to “temporarily reintroduce” stricter measures if there is a “substantial increase” in Covid cases in its environment or if they are in areas local communities for additional support.
Other boards, including Devon and Cornwall, and individual schools across the country have already asked students to wear face coverings in schools this term.
The independent previously reported on schools imposing their own stricter testing and traceability system in an attempt to limit outbreaks.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Wednesday there were no plans to implement Plan B “yet, saying the pressures on the NHS were not yet” unsustainable. “
Boris Johnson also said the numbers were “high” but within the parameters “predicted by scientists advising the government as he resisted calls for stricter Covid rules.
A senior member of the local health council said he was “really frustrated” to learn that the government was not planning to tighten measures nationwide.
“We will soon be entering the winter season which is always a difficult time for the most vulnerable members of our community and for our health and care workers,” added Mike Bell, Deputy Chief of the North Somerset Council.
“I would much prefer action taken now to protect people before case rates soar and people get sick, and to alleviate winter pressures on our hard-working healthcare and health services.”
The World Health Organization has warned that the vaccine alone will not be able to lift the world out of the pandemic.
“We really need to take further action,” spokeswoman Margaret Harris said Radio schedules Saturday.
“We have to be serious so as not to burden ourselves. We should always consider wearing masks, especially when you are indoors. “
Mr Javid urged the public this week to follow advice on wearing face masks in crowded spaces.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said protective measures at school “strike a balance” between managing the risk of transmission, including with regular Covid testing and vaccines for older staff and students, and reduced disruption “by removing the need for close contact in bubbles for self-isolation and for face coverings to be worn in most cases.”
A government spokesperson said “we always knew the coming months would be tough, which is why we laid out our plan for fall and winter last month.”
They said the vaccination program “has significantly weakened the link between cases, hospitalizations and deaths” and will continue to be the “first line of defense” against Covid. The spokesperson also urged those eligible to receive a booster shot.