The government is reportedly weighing up plans to scrap self-isolation, free Covid swabs and the NHS Test and Trace system.
Leaked proposals also reveal ministers could get rid of the £500 payment for people on low incomes who need to quarantine.
With vaccination levels high and the booster programme continuing, it appears ministers hope they will be able to start scaling back the expensive systems put in place to control Covid after winter.
The revelations come from a 160-page dossier of policy ideas which could be introduced after the winter leaked to the Mail on Sunday.
Entitled ‘Operation Rampdown’, the proposals are billed as the next step of ‘learning to live with Covid-19′.
The document warns the virus will remain at endemic levels for several years and that the emergence of a more deadly or transmissible strain remains a threat.
But it also predicts the UK won’t see a repeat of the Christmas wave which ravaged the country last year.
The Test and Trace system was handed a £37bn budget over two years but the Treasury will hope to see that scaled back as vaccination coverage increases.
Instead, the documents suggest testing support will be prioritised for vulnerable settings like care homes.
Boris Johnson again repeated his assessment today that there is nothing in the data to suggest a move to Plan B measures is necessary despite gloomily predicting a new wave could be imported from Europe.
Under contingency plans set out earlier this year, the government retains the right to reinstate policies like compulsory mask-wearing and the use of vaccine passports.
He added we ‘cannot rule anything out’ but predicted the booster programme and other pharmaceutical interventions will prevent the need for stricter measures.
But earlier in the day, he said ‘there is a storm of infection out there in parts of Europe…and we’ve just got to recognise that there is always a risk that a blizzard could come from the east again, as the months get colder’.
University College London professor and Independent Sage committee member Christina Pagel called the suggesting a wave can be imported ‘arrant nonsense’.
She tweeted: ‘We still have among highest covid rates in Europe. Their ‘wave’ is individual to each country’s combo of measures, vax & prev immunity.
‘Assuming no new variant, our winter Covid path depends on us & what WE choose to do as a country. Do not let the govt pretend otherwise.’
One sceptical source told the Mail the pandemic is ‘totally over in the mind of ministers’ and warned: ‘But what happens if a new variant arrives and they have just shut down the whole national infrastructure?
‘Are we retaining enough knowledge from the £37 billion investment over the past two years? I really don’t think we are.’
Several European countries have reintroduced some lockdown measures in recent days, including the Netherlands and Austria.
Professor Chris Whitty said a rethink on whether Plan B of the winter coronavirus plan would be needed if case numbers increased on the scale seen in Europe.
England’s chief medical officer said the numbers are ‘broadly flat’, adding: ‘There is substantial pressure on the NHS and that is widely recognised by everybody, ministers obviously included.
‘But in terms of the Covid numbers, they’re not currently going up in the kind of numbers you’re seeing in continental Europe, but obviously if they did that would be a situation where we would have to look again at what the situation is at that stage.’
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at email@example.com
For more stories like this, check our news page.