Boris Johnson urges public to 'keep following the rules' despite vaccine success

5 February 2021, 20:56

Boris Johnson: "Encouraging progress this week, but we’re not there yet"

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Prime Minister has urged the public to continue following the rules despite successes with the vaccine rollout.

Posting a video on Twitter, Boris Johnson said on February 22 he would "set out the beginnings of our roadmap for a way forward for the whole country as the vaccine programme intensifies and, as more and more people acquire immunity, a steady programme for beginning to unlock."

He added: "I want to stress that it is still early days and we have rates of infection in this country (that are) still very, very high and (have) more people - almost twice as many people - in our hospitals with Covid now than there were back at the peak in April.

"So, do remember how tough it still is, how high that rate of infection is and that we must, must work together to get it down - that's the fundamental thing to get right. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives."

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The Prime Minister also said that "the vaccine rollout in particular is proceeding at a huge rate of knots".

"We've done 10.9 million vaccines, I think 90 per cent of the 75-79 year old group have been reached, almost 90 per cent of the over 80s have now been done," he said.

"In some cases it's 97 per cent, I think in Yorkshire it is.

He continued: "And it was wonderful by the way to be up at the Al-Hikmah vaccination centre in Batley, in Yorkshire, where I saw people working really well and really hard to make sure that the vaccines reach all communities in our country and that is going well across the country.

"But obviously we need to make even more effort as we come up to February 15th and the deadline for doing groups 1 to 4."

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It comes after Downing Street confirmed that all those aged 50 and over in the UK should be given a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by May.

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.