Downing Street has refused to rule out a return to local lockdown as the Indian variant of coronavirus remains a concern.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman was asked whether minister would consider a return to a tiered system as stage three of Boris Johnson’s roadmap went ahead as planned on Monday.

He said: "I don't want to get ahead of where we are at the moment and start getting into hypothetical situations.

"As the Prime Minister has set out, we've moved as a country into step three.

"Albeit with a very targeted increase in surge vaccinations and testing in these areas where we're seeing rises.

"And that's what we want to proceed with if at all possible but we don't want to rule anything out.

"And I think until we have more data and more evidence, we won't be making those judgments."

It comes as Professor Gabriel Scally, a member of Independent Sage and a leading public health expert said “we should be throwing the kitchen sink at this” in places like Bolton and Blackburn to reduce infection.

Asked if he would support local lockdowns, Prof Gabriel Scally told Sky News: “Well I think certainly local restrictions to get it under control, but hopefully we will be doing much more than just putting on restrictions.

“Sometimes it seems we’re like a one-trick pony, the only thing we know is shutting things down, and that’s bad for people’s health, it’s bad for the economy, and it’s a bad way to tackle an infectious disease.

“We do need outbreak control, and that’s a whole range of measures, and that includes simple things like improving the ventilation, actually putting some resources into paying for better ventilation in our schools, in our workplaces, ensuring people have fresh air and can stay safe.”

Prof Scally added: “I have great concerns about this particular variant because of its much more transmissible characteristics.

“It hasn’t really taken off in Europe yet, and if it takes off in Europe I think we’re in for a very rocky time because of course vaccination levels are not at the same high level as they are in the UK, in much of Europe.

“And at the same time, we’re reducing travel restrictions, and many more people are disappearing off on holidays and will come back and not necessarily have any really managed quarantine, and we know self-isolation doesn’t work, and I’m really worried about a big wave in Europe… A good quarantine system on our borders is absolutely essential.”