Boris Johnson appeals for vaccinated over-80s not to break Covid rules

Tim Wyatt and Andrew Woodcock
·4-min read
Now that the majority of over-80s have been vaccinated, many are abandoning lockdown restrictions (PA)
Now that the majority of over-80s have been vaccinated, many are abandoning lockdown restrictions (PA)

Boris Johnson has appealed for over-80s to continue observing lockdown restrictions after receiving the Covid vaccine, as a new study found that more than 40 per cent had breached them.

According to the survey released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 43 per cent of those polled admitted meeting someone not from their household or support bubble indoors.

For those who had already had their second dose of the vaccine, this figure climbed to 48 per cent.

Despite the success of the vaccine rollout and the government’s announcement of its plans to ease lockdown in the coming months, it remains against the regulations to meet socially indoors or outdoors with anyone outside your household or support bubble.

Asked about the findings, Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said the prime minister was urging people to remain patient after and continue observing the rules after receiving the jab.

The spokesperson said: “We are allowing some easements from Monday next week, in terms of allowing for one-on-one recreational meetings in public places.

“But it is important as we move through the pandemic that people continue to follow the rules and guidelines.”

The spokesperson added that the government had deliberately built in five-week delays between each step of England’s roadmap out of lockdown in order to be able to check whether each relaxation of restrictions has led to an upsurge in infections before moving on to the next.

Although the evidence now shows the vaccines are highly effective at protecting those inoculated from becoming ill with coronavirus, current government rules do not provide any exemption to lockdown restrictions for the more than 20 million Britons who have now been vaccinated.

The new figures came just days after the deputy chief medical officer for England, Jonathan Van Tam, had urged those who had been vaccinated not to let their guard down and be lulled into a false sense of security.

Speaking during a Downing Street press conference last Friday, he said: “It is a bit like being 3-0 up in a game and thinking, ‘We can’t possibly lose this now’ – but how many times have we seen the other side take it 4-3?

“Do not wreck this now. It is too early to relax. Just continue to maintain discipline and hang on just a few more months.”

But it appears his pleas are falling on deaf ears for many. The most common group the lockdown-busting octogenarians said they had spent time with inside was their children, with 23 per cent admitting to either going to their children’s homes or inviting them into theirs after having their jab.

Nine per cent of those surveyed also said they had seen their grandchildren, and 6 per cent their friends.

However, not all of the over-80s who had been vaccinated had begun unilaterally relaxing lockdown – one in five people said they had not left home for any reason since they were given their jab.

There was also evidence the vaccines were beginning to lower fears among the elderly, who have suffered the most deaths of any during the pandemic.

The ONS survey, which polled 2,000 of those aged 80 and above in mid-February, showed that before vaccination just under half (49 per cent) believed Covid to be a major or significant risk to them personally.

But for those who had received both doses of the vaccine, this plummeted to just 5 per cent.

A quarter of the over-80s also said they would be more likely to go to hospital if they had other medical problems after being vaccinated; and this increased to 33 per cent for those who had already had their second jab.

Despite 41 per cent reporting they had experienced some side-effects from the vaccine, an enormous 96 per cent said they would be likely to recommend others also come forward for the jab once it is their turn.

“The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination is, no doubt, a huge relief to many people aged over 80, as we can see that almost half of them, when asked, considered Covid-19 to be a major or significant personal risk before receiving the vaccination,” said Tim Gibbs from the ONS.

“This decreases to just 5 per cent having the same concern after hypothetically receiving both doses of the vaccine.

“We hope to start to see these wider positive effects of the vaccine rollout as it continues across more age groups in the coming weeks.”

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