The email was sent by the UK Health Security Agency to leaders of local councils and directors of public health at the end of last week, it is claimed.
The alleged document describes a range of measures that could be introduced as part of a “plan B” – including working from home, vaccine passports for nightclubs and the return of legally mandatory face masks.
According to The Sun, an official wrote: “I have been asked to survey opinion on the level of support for the immediate deployment of the Winter Plan – Plan B.”
A few days earlier, Health Secretary Sajid Javid had refused to trigger plan B, despite an increase in infections.
He said at a No 10 press conference that it was right to hold back Plan B because the pressure on the NHS is not yet ‘unsustainable’.
This was despite the NHS Confederation calling for a ‘Plan B plus’ to prevent the nation from falling into a ‘winter crisis’.
The email added that the public should be told “clearly and urgently” that the risk has increased, and “the need to behave more carefully” explained.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘With a rising tide of Covid disease and hospitals under overwhelming pressure, it’s no surprise that Tory ministers are secretly plotting to bring back masks and introduce vaccine passports.
“But whether it’s Plan A, B or C to tackle this deadly disease, Sajid Javid urgently needs to repair the campaign of stuttering shots.
“Vaccination should be our wall of defense, but this wall is collapsing. Complacency must be abandoned, we need vaccination to be fixed. “
A spokesperson for the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said: “We are not commenting on the leaks. It is part of the UKHSA’s role to provide advice to the government on the ongoing response to the pandemic. “
A government spokesperson said: ‘We knew the coming months would be tough – that’s exactly why we set out our Covid plan for fall and winter.
“We are closely monitoring all data, and the Prime Minister has made it clear that he is not yet showing that Plan B is needed.
“Our goal remains our recall campaign, the vaccination of 12-15 year olds and the encouragement of those who have not yet come forward to receive their vaccine. “