Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reported to be concerned that the goalposts have shifted over when lockdown in England will end.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said a roadmap out of lockdown will be published in the week of February 22.
And Mr Johnson hopes schools in England will start to reopen from March 8.
But the Chancellor is reported to be concerned that the measures used to determine when lockdown ends have been changed.
According to reports the original determining factor as to when lockdown would be lifted was reduced pressure on the NHS.
But scientists are now said to be asking for infection rates to be much lower before lockdown ends.
A source told The Telegraph: “Rishi is concerned that the scientists have been moving the goalposts in recent weeks. It’s no longer just about hospitalisations and protecting the NHS but cases and case numbers.
“Now the target seems to be that we need to keep cases down overall, which wasn’t the original aim of the lockdown… The talk has switched to becoming COVID-free.”
In January Health Secretary Matt Hancock set out the factors that would be used to determine the end of lockdown.
Mr Hancock told MPs: “We’ve set out the conditions that we’ll look at for the relaxation of the restrictions.
“Those are, that there isn’t another major, new variant that is causing difficulties.
“The vaccination program is working, and the number of hospitalisations and deaths is coming down.”
The Health Secretary said there were no “fixed thresholds” for any of the key criteria – but stressed ministers were always looking at the “direction” deaths and hospitalisations are travelling.
Coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and deaths will continue to fall as the UK has passed the peak in the current wave of the pandemic, England’s chief medical officer has said.
Professor Chris Whitty said that “provided people continue to follow the guidelines”, all four nations were on the “downward slope”.
But he stressed that though rates are coming down, they remain “incredibly high” – and could rise quickly – plunging the NHS “back into trouble extraordinarily fast”.
“I think that most of my colleagues think we are past the peak,” Prof Whitty told a Downing Street press conference.
“Now that doesn’t mean you could never have another peak. But, at this point in time, provided people continue to follow the guidelines, we’re on the downward slope of cases, of hospitalisations and of deaths, in all four of the nations of the United Kingdom.
“So I think, we do think, at this point, this peak at least, we are past.”
Prof Whitty said, however, that the number of people in hospital is still higher than in the first peak in April last year. He also warned that the number of deaths would “stay high for quite some time”.
His comments were echoed by Boris Johnson who warned that the level of infection is still “forbiddingly high” and that it is too soon to relax current restrictions.
The Prime Minister said: “Though today there are some signs of hope – the numbers of Covid patients in hospital are beginning to fall for the first time since the onset of this new wave – the level of infection is still alarmingly high.
“The wards of our NHS are under huge pressure with more than 32,000 Covid patients still in hospital.”
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk