Millions of people could start to ignore coronavirus restrictions once they have been vaccinated, ministers have been warned, as police officers revealed they are issuing increasing numbers of fines for egregious lockdown breaches.
Government scientists advising Boris Johnson fear that many people will ‘probably abandon’ social distancing and lockdown rules once they have had the jab.
More than 4million Britons have now had a Covid vaccine and ministers believe they are on track to hit the 13.9million target by February 15, which could spell an end to the endless cycle of restrictions. Whitehall insiders hope most adults will have been inoculated by the end of June.
It came as police revealed they have handed out nearly 30,000 fines to lockdown flouters in England, taking the total to more than £6million.
Minutes from a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) meeting, seen by The Telegraph, cite a survey which estimates just under a third of people will adhere to the restrictions less strictly once they have had a vaccine, while 11 per cent will ‘probably no longer follow the rules.’
The minutes from the December 17 meeting state: ‘There is a risk that changes in behaviour will offset the benefits of vaccination, particularly in the early months of vaccine rollout.’
Matt Hancock tonight revealed more than 4million Britons have now had a coronavirus vaccine, amid mounting claims that a ‘postcode lottery’ has left vulnerable people in certain areas unprotected
Ministers are pressurising their own Government to end the vaccine postcode lottery amid fears the most vulnerable in some areas are being left behind
Boris Johnson is said to privately hope that most adults will be vaccinated by June as it was claimed that SAGE scientists believe that people with the jab will start to ignore lockdown rules
Commuters head into central London on the Jubilee Line today including some not wearing masks
The Metropolitan Police (pictured in New Bond Street) said officers had issued more than 140 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) totalling £39,000 in two days in the Tower Hamlets and Hackney areas of London
Lockdown law: Police CAN fine you or ask you to leave
The self-proclaimed anti-masker in the Sainsbury’s video claimed police were not allowed to ask her ‘disability’ so could not force her to leave.
The gov.uk website says police can take measures if members of the public do not comply with the face covering law without a valid exemption’.
On the same page it also says – according to the law – those with an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering do not ‘routinely need to show any written evidence of this’.
However, guidance on enforcement puts an onus on people claiming a medical exemption to prove this when challenged by police, meaning that officers can ask them to leave or fine them if they fail to do so.
The government has said there is not yet data on whether people who have been vaccinated can since transmit the virus.
Health officials also fear families of elderly people who have been vaccinated — but have not been vaccinated themselves — will flout the rules in the knowledge their loved ones are safe from catching the virus.
Sage members have urged ministers to launch a public awareness bid to reinforce the need for people to follow restrictions even after they have received a jab.
It comes after a man who drove 30 miles for a takeaway and a group gathering in a garden shed became the latest to be issued fines by police enforcing coronavirus rules.
Forces across the UK have broken up parties and meet-ups and fined people for visiting beauty spots despite lockdown rules.
The Metropolitan Police said officers had issued more than 140 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) totalling £39,000 in two days in the Tower Hamlets and Hackney areas of London including to more than 40 people having a party at an Airbnb.
Three officers were injured and three arrests were made for possession of a class B substance, breach of coronavirus legislation and assault on an emergency worker, after one of the police broke a finger.
A woman filmed herself being kicked out of Sainsbury’s for refusing to wear a face covering and four people were fined for driving 50 miles to ‘look at the snow’ before crashing – as police handed out nearly 30,000 fines to lockdown flouters.
Footage filmed at the supermarket in Dartford on Saturday shows the unnamed shopper arguing with two officers and claiming they could not ask her to show proof of her ‘disability’.
Police patrol the promenade and seafront on January 16, 2021 in Bournemouth, Dorset. With a surge of covid-19 cases fueled partly by a more infectious variant of the virus
A student who embarked on a lockdown-breaching 150-mile journey ‘for a change of scenery’ had his car (pictured) seized after he stopped in the middle lane of the M62 when police pulled him over
How ministers added to confusion over the lockdown rules
May 10 (Sunday) – Number 10 says the lockdown is being eased but people will not be allowed to meet more than one person from outside their household outdoors.
11 (Monday) – Dominic Raab says people can meet their parents in the park, contradicting No10’s stance.
Later that day – No10 reiterates that you can only meet one person outside.
Nov 2 – Michael Gove tells constituents they will be allowed to play golf and tennis during lockdown.
2 – He apologises and confirms he was wrong.
2 – Robert Jenrick says Gove was wrong to say people could still play golf and tennis, but then himself wrongly suggests you can meet with your family outside even if you do not live with them.
She asked them ‘are you doctors?’ before producing a sheet of paper printed at home that she wrongly believed proved her point and saying ‘I’ll be taking you to court’.
The female officer replied ‘see you in court then’ as she and her colleague led the woman out into the car park.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, officers stopped four people from different households who travelled to a Peak District beauty spot to enjoy the wintery scenes before sliding off the road during the journey.
Derbyshire Constabulary said the BMW driver lost control of the car and rolled on its side near Bamford, in the Peak District, Derbyshire after travelling from St Helens in Merseyside.
The force said: ‘The four vehicle occupants were from different households. Is this essential? No. All were issued with Covid 19 tickets.’ No one was injured.
The most recent figures showed police officers in England have now handed out 28,744 fines since the start of lockdown in March, with 80% going to flouters aged between 18 and 39.
Ministers are pressurising their own Government to end the vaccine postcode lottery amid fears the most vulnerable in some areas are being left behind.
Matt Hancock revealed yesterday that more than four million people in the UK have now received a vaccine, including more than half of over-80s and care home residents.
The Health Secretary said in some areas the ‘vast majority’ of people in their 80s have had their first dose. He heaped praise on Slough in Berkshire for having vaccinated all of the town’s elderly care home residents, a feat matched by Newcastle upon Tyne.
On Saturday, officers stopped four people from different households who travelled to a Peak District beauty spot to enjoy the wintery scenes before sliding off the road during the journey
More than 4million Britons have now had one dose of their Covid vaccine
More than 4million Britons have now had a Covid vaccine, amid mounting claims that a ‘postcode lottery’ has left vulnerable people in certain areas unprotected.
With the successful roll-out of a jab the only hope ministers have of being able to ease the lockdown restrictions this spring, Matt Hancock last night told the nation: ‘Don’t blow it now, we’re on the route out.’
The Health Secretary also admitted supplies of the only two approved jabs, made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca, were being prioritised to areas lagging behind in the roll-out.
It comes after another 7million Britons were sent invite letters to receive their coronavirus jabs — but only in areas where the ‘majority’ of over-80s have had it already.
Discussing Britain’s growing Covid vaccine postcode lottery, Mr Hancock praised Slough for ensuring all of their care home residents have had their first dose. Newcastle-upon-Tyne has also achieved the feat.
But he said: ‘What we’re doing now is making sure that whilst they, of course, will be able to move onto the next group, we’re prioritising the supply of the vaccine into those parts of the country that need to complete the over-80s.’
Whitehall insiders believe the UK’s vaccine rollout is going so well that the wider adult population may be covered by June rather than September, with around 280,000 doses currently being administered each day.
No10’s vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted people in their 70s will only be offered jabs in areas where the ‘majority’ of over-80s have already had their first shot. That could mean people in areas such as London and Suffolk, where progress has been slower, will have to wait longer.
But the situation is mired in confusion as Mr Zahawi suggested a ‘majority’ means 90 per cent of the highest age bracket — whereas Downing Street pointed to more than half.
But the vaccine programme was questioned by fellow minister Therese Coffey, who said ‘something isn’t quite right’ about how the rollout was progressing.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said her constituents in Suffolk had ‘distressing and annoying’ information about younger patients receiving priority for jabs ahead of the more elderly.
She said she has been contacted by people complaining that over-70s appear to be invited ahead of some over-80s and even over-90s. She wrote on social media: ‘Something is not quite working right yet, particularly in one part of the constituency, as I am hearing from people that 80-plus and 90-plus-year-olds have not been contacted while some 70-plus patients in the same GP practice were invited for vaccination.
‘I know it is both distressing and annoying when people hear that other cohorts of a lower priority are being vaccinated ahead of our oldest and most vulnerable.’
Official figures revealed 4,062,501 people have received a vaccine – up 225,000 on the previous day.
Millions of over-70s and the extremely vulnerable will start to be invited for jabs from this week, although officials stressed this will be in areas where the vast majority of over-80s have been reached.
Yet dozens of Daily Mail readers have written in to tell their stories of frustration, with many fearing they have been overlooked.
Ruth Wide, 98, who worked as a hospital radiographer during the Second World War, has still to hear from her GP practice in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. Her son Marcus, 72, is worried she has been overlooked but has followed the advice not to contact the surgery directly. He said: ‘There is no way to check whether somebody tried to call but failed to get through.’
Family doctors have suggested supplies being sent to mass-vaccination centres would be better diverted to local GP surgeries. Dr Helen Salisbury, a GP in Oxford, said mass-vaccination sites were intended for the younger population and should not be used while there are capacity constraints.
She said: ‘It’s a big risk to make elderly people travel for long periods in a car with another person and even riskier to take public transport to their appointment.’
Dr Jess Harvey, a Shropshire GP, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I appreciate there might be issues getting the vaccine out, and maybe just an honest approach with that would be helpful. Tell the public that not everyone will get the vaccine because there isn’t enough.’
Last night the Government insisted the rollout programme was ‘on track’ to vaccinate the 13.5million most vulnerable by mid-February.
Boris Johnson said over-80s and those living in care homes were still an ‘absolute priority’. During a visit to Oxfordshire, the Prime Minister said: ‘We’re getting it out as fast as we can.’
Mr Hancock vowed that supplies of both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are being prioritised to areas behind in the roll-out.
He told a Downing Street press conference: ‘We’re prioritising the supply of the vaccine into those parts of the country that need to complete the over-80s.’
Matt Hancock is filmed out in London park after Boris Johnson’s national plea to ‘stay home this weekend’
By Jemma Carr and Jack Elsom for MailOnline
Matt Hancock was seen ‘covered in mud’ while carrying a rugby ball through a London park this afternoon the day after Boris Johnson pleaded with the nation to ‘stay at home this weekend’.
The Prime Minister yesterday released a video calling on the public to ‘think twice’ before leaving the house as he moved to cool rising optimism amid a drop in daily infections and the vaccination of more than 3.5million people.
He urged everyone to behave as if they have coronavirus, warning that asymptomatic ‘silent spreaders’ are unwittingly fuelling the crisis and the next person infected ‘could be you’.
But his sobering clarion call did little to put off crowds who headed to busy parks – including the Health Secretary who was filmed by a passerby casually walking through Queen’s Park in North London while clutching a rugby ball.
In the clip, Mr Hancock, who is not wearing a mask, smiles as a member of the public who remarks at how ‘muddy’ he is.
The witness told MailOnline: ‘I was there at about 3.30 this afternoon… Suddenly I saw Matt Hancock, he was there playing rugby with his son I think. He walked right up to me and I saw he was covered head to toe in mud.’
While rugby is a favourite of his boss, the Prime Minister, father-of-three Mr Hancock is instead known for his cricketing prowess and plays for the parliamentary side.
Lockdown rules state that people can leave their homes for exercise by themselves, with the people they live with or with a legally-permitted support bubble. Official guidance does not rule out ball sports.
Ministers are launching an advertising blitz to hammer home the importance of sticking to lockdown rules while the biggest vaccination drive in British history paves a path out of the pandemic.
In the clip, Mr Hancock – who is not wearing a mask – smiles as a member of the public in Queen’s Park remarks at how ‘muddy’ he is