Boris Johnson has insisted England is not being put into lockdown by stealth, despite accusations from some of his own MPs.
The prime minister said he was not telling the public to cancel events, but urging them to exercise “caution”.
It comes as chief medical officer Chris Whitty suggested people “prioritise” activities in the run-up to Christmas.
Conservative MP Steve Brine accused the government of “putting hospitality into effective lockdown”.
Mr Brine said Prof Whitty’s comments meant businesses were facing “complete ruin” and more government support was needed.
Business group the CBI has urged ministers to provide more support for pubs, restaurants and other venues, who have seen a rise in booking cancellations amid the spread of the Omicron variant.
The PM’s spokesman denied Number 10 was sending out mixed messages about socialising over Christmas, adding that both the prime minister and the chief medical officer “were making the point that given the current infection rate people should be cautious and think carefully before mixing with others”.
Meanwhile, Labour said the government needed to provide clarity on how it wants people to behave in the coming weeks.
With thousands of football fans due to attend matches in the coming days, shadow heath secretary Wes Streeting said “clarity from the government would be helpful” on whether they should go or not.
He added that the new Covid pass scheme for large events in England should give people confidence to “go about their daily lives and enjoy themselves”.
“We have got to get to a point in this country where we can co-exist with coronavirus,” he added.
On Wednesday, Dr Nikki Kanani – director of primary care at NHS England – said her advice would be “if you’re going to go to a stadium at the weekend, make it one where you can get your vaccine or help out to give a vaccine, rather than going to watch a match.”
Some big stadiums, including Stamford Bridge, Wembley and Elland Road are hosting mass vaccination centres.
Separately, Prof Whitty told MPs “if the most important thing to someone in the next 10 days is to go to a football match, do that.”