Boris Johnson faced a battle to save Christmas last night after a government adviser warned that allowing festive gatherings would "fuel" the pandemic.
Downing Street said again yesterday that the Prime Minister wanted to ease Covid restrictions to give families a break at the end of an "incredibly difficult year".
Ministers promised to strike a balance with the need to keep the virus from spiraling out of control.
However, a number of scientific and medical experts warned that the possibility of families congregating for Christmas could trigger a third wave of coronavirus in the New Year.
Meanwhile, hospital bosses have insisted that Tier 3 restrictions should become in place across the UK to avoid a catastrophic surge in Covid-19 cases, the Times reported.
Chris Hopson, executive director of the NHS Providers hospital group, warned Tier 1 and Tier 2 measures "just not effective enough" when he proposed Tier 3 rules – the toughest restrictions in England prior to the four-week lockdown – should become the norm.
However, the expert added that this was "not hard enough" in some places and said, "So you need a super level, level 4."
Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to decide whether to ease lockdown measures over Christmas. A government adviser has warned that permission to hold festive gatherings would "throw fuel on the fire"
Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said Christmas should only be treated as one more "date of the month" this year, adding, "If Covid cases turn into hospital cases and then unfortunately turn into deaths, we will a Christmas season that Grandma Covid brought for Christmas. & # 39;
Mr Hopson warned that even a short-lived Christmas break in the rules in Covid-19 cases across the UK could result in an "uncontrollable flood".
He said this could mean that hospitals will face a possible influx of patients over winter, which is usually the busiest time of year for medical professionals.
Speaking to The Times, Mr. Hopson added, "There is a risk that a few weeks later, a few days later, we will trade for the misery of a third wave."
Describing relaxation of the rules during the holiday season as a "nightmare scenario", he added, "Even a few days with very few restrictions would be a problem."
Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the government's scientific committee, Sage, said allowing family gatherings would pose a "significant risk" to new infections. "In my personal opinion, we attach far too much importance to an almost normal Christmas," he told Radio 4's "Today" program.
"We know respiratory infections peak in January, so throwing fuel on the fire over Christmas can only help."
And Professor Gabriel Scally, a public health expert at the University of Bristol, said it was "pointless" to celebrate a Merry Christmas just to "bury friends and relatives in January and February".
Drinkers gathered outside a pub near Battersea in south London Thursday night as Boris Johnson came under pressure to ease lockdown measures over Christmas
Ministers are considering easing lockdown measures for three to five days over Christmas – but existing rules haven't stopped people from gathering in Battersea Square on Thursday
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, "I don't want to be the Grinch who stole Christmas," but added, "More than anything, I want us to get through this Covid and try to get this country back to normal."
Downing Street declined to say whether door-to-door singing of Christmas carols was allowed, but the Prime Minister's spokesman said there would be no ban on the sale of mistletoe.
Ministers are exploring a number of ways to ease restrictions this Christmas. Following a suggestion, families from three or four households could gather but not meet anyone. An alternative would be to simply relax the rule of six to allow larger groups.
In either case, the plans would last a maximum of five days and possibly as little as three days. A proposed schedule would run from Christmas Eve through December 28th Bank Holiday.
Downing Street believes a less constrained Christmas celebration is vital to national morale, and fears that strict rules are being ignored by families desperately searching for loved ones.
Ministers want to see the latest data on the status of the virus before deciding how far to go, and Mr Wallace said a decision will be made shortly before December 2, when the current lockdown expires.
A warning from Public Health England that each day of the celebrations would be followed by five days of lockdown caused irritation in Whitehall and was downplayed.
Health sources said it was based on "very preliminary modeling," and another government source said, "It's pretty unhelpful for PHE to talk over five days. How do you know if we haven't even decided exactly what restrictions should apply? "
People were seen eating and drinking on coroners at Clapham as scientists warn that Christmas this year should be treated like another "date of the month"
A government adviser yesterday suggested that indoor socialization should be banned across England after December 2nd.
Epidemiologist John Edmunds, a member of Sage, said the ban, which previously only applied to Tier 2 and above, needs to be extended. This would deal a serious blow to the hospitality industry.
He told ITV's Peston show, "I think we can negotiate Christmas without being banned again. I really hope that is the case."
"When I say a lock, I mean what we're in right now." I still think we must have limitations, other than probably that little window over Christmas when I'm sure we will relax a little. "
He also said he expected the social distancing rules of some form to apply until at least next summer.