Prime minister Boris Johnson is under pressure from members within his own party to lift lockdown restrictions by May at the latest.
The timetable to vaccinate the top nine at-risk groups by May was cited by the Cabinet Office today as a reason why local elections are expected to go ahead on May 6.
Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the intention for all over-50s to have been offered the Covid-19 vaccine by that date.
Mark Harper, chair of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group heaped pressure on the prime minister to ensure restrictions were lifted on local businesses and people’s liberty once all over-50s had been vaccinated.
“These top nine groups account for around 99 per cent of those that have died from Covid and about 80 per cent of hospital admissions”, said Harper.
“It will be almost impossible to justify having any restrictions in place at all by that point.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock said he was confident the country could keep to the vaccination timetable of May, provided vaccine supply was not impeded.
On a visit to Gatwick airport on Friday evening, Mr Hancock said: “Lots of things have got to go right to hit that goal, especially supply, which is the rate-limiting factor, but I’m sure, working with the NHS and everybody else who is making this happen, that if we keep going at the pace we can, then we can make sure all the over-50s get the offer of a vaccine by May.”
Senior Conservatives are now calling on the government to continue in its momentum and unlock the economy and society as soon as possible.
The vaccination roll-out has been progressing at some pace with over 480,000 people being administered their first jab yesterday.
Almost 11 million Brits have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.