Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been warned by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that he must be ready to bring back the furlough scheme in order to save restaurants and shops from going under, The Telegraph has reported.

The international financial stability watchdog said targeted measures should be ready to be reintroduced to limit the economic damage from any new rules, after reports that Whitehall officials are considering ‘plan c’ which would include mandating table service.

“Should there be the need for more restrictive measures, especially affecting contact-intensive sectors, then the policy support will have to be calibrated accordingly,” said Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF.

It has predicted growth of 6.8% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022, with a “mild slowdown” of the economy forecast for the early months of next year.

Various business groups have already called on the government for more support following the introduction of Plan B, with the British Chambers of Commerce stating that VAT should be cut back to 5% for the hospitality and tourism industries.

Yesterday Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon proposed a series of additional measures which is likely to see the return of social distancing in its pubs and restaurants as it tries to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.