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All over-50s to receive Covid vaccine by May, Downing Street confirms
5 February 2021, 15:30 | Updated: 5 February 2021, 15:39
All those aged 50 and over in the UK should be given a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by May, Downing Street has confirmed.
Boris Johnson's official spokesman initially refused to confirm the date, which appeared in a Cabinet Office document on local elections, saying it had been issued in error.
Ministers had also previously declined to give a firm date, saying it was only the "ambition" to vaccinate the first nine priority groups against coronavirus by the spring.
After the apparent confusion in Whitehall, the Cabinet Office has now confirmed the aim.
A No 10 spokesman said: "This was issued in error. I believe the Cabinet Office have now withdrawn it."
But when pressed again on the issue, the spokesman said: "It isn't actually being withdrawn.
"We have confirmed today that the elections must go ahead. The Government is supporting that delivery with funding and plans that they take place in a way that is Covid secure.
"The Cabinet Office document is correct."
The spokesman said Boris Johnson would set out a "precise timeline" when he announces a roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions in England on 15 February.
Fantastic that 1 in 5 adults have now had their first COVID vaccine.— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) February 4, 2021
I want to thank all involved - the NHS, our armed forces, all the volunteers & everyone else who is working so hard to defeat this virus 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/dN3Yn65vAE
The rollout of the vaccine programme means that the government is reportedly now more confident that local elections could go ahead in England and Wales on 6 May as planned.
Under new rules set out by the Cabinet Office, voters will have to wear face coverings inside polling stations and will be asked to bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot when they go to vote on 6 May.
Proxy voting rules will also be updated so that people who must self-isolate can request an emergency proxy vote up to 5pm on polling day.
Matt Hancock announced yesterday that 1 in 5 adults have now had their first Covid-19 vaccine.