Government scientific advisers suggested a tougher Tier 4 lockdown category amid fears the rules were not strict enough to shrink the epidemic.

Newly published SAGE papers show the experts warned the three-tier system did not go far enough and questioned whether a higher tier was needed.

The scientific advisory panel also questioned the point of Tier 1 rules, saying Tier 2 is "the minimum intervention required to maintain any degree of control on transmission".

The documents were published as Boris Johnson confirmed that England's national lockdown would end on December 2 and the country would move into a new three-tier system.

The Prime Minister said the new tiers would be tougher than before the four-week lockdown after advice from scientists.

But the lengthy new Covid Winter Plan does not include a Tier 4 category.

Boris Johnson announced the new three-tier lockdown rules by video link as he is self isolating in No10

Papers from a SAGE meeting on November 12 show the scientists warned that "more stringent" restrictions may be necessary than the previous Tier 3 rules "to avoid the need for further national-level interventions".

"This will be particularly important in the run up to the winter festive period if relaxation of measures is under consideration," the group said.

A separate document by the SPI-M group, which looks at modelling, said: "It is likely that some localities may need a “Tier 4” to prevent the epidemic from growing.

"A “Tier 4” that guarantees a reduction in prevalence would be required in most places, if the prevalence is to be reduced."

The scientists also questioned whether Tier 1 was effective, saying Tier 2 was "the minimum intervention required to maintain any degree of control on transmission".

The document said: "Overall, early analysis suggests that the tiers system in England had an impact on viral transmission during the period it was implemented, with higher tiers having a greater impact.

"Tier 1 measures alone are not enough to prevent the epidemic from growing rapidly."

England's new coronavirus three-tier system

The Prime Minister confirmed that England's national lockdown would be replaced by three-tier restrictions at midnight on December 2.

He told MPs: "From next Wednesday people will be able to leave their home for any purpose and meet others in outdoor public spaces, subject to the rule of six, collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume, and shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector can reopen.

"But without sensible precautions, we would risk the virus escalating into a winter or New Year surge."

Under new beefed up rules, pubs must shut their doors in Tier 3 areas except for takeaway and delivery services, while bars in Tier 2 areas can only serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal.

The unpopular 10pm curfew will be axed, with last orders at that time, allowing customers to drink up before 11pm.

Different areas will find out which tier they are in on Thursday.

The Prime Minister warned that more regions "will fall at least temporarily into higher levels than before".