OFFICIALS have urged people to follow the lockdown rules after anti-lockdown messages were spotted in Horwich.

Stickers calling for an end to lockdown were seen in the town, prompting leaders to remind people why the rules were in place.

Cllr David Greenhalgh, the Leader of Bolton Council said: “We understand how hard and frustrating the measures are.

"Everyone has gone through such a difficult year, but the virus is still here and it's spreading fast within our community here in Bolton.

"These measures are here to protect us all, our friends, our family, our work colleagues. The new strain of the virus means it is far easier to pass on between people and the more contact we have with others the greater the chance it is being passed on."

The UK is currently under national lockdown rules, with everyone encouraged to stay at home.

Shielding has resumed, and anyone who is clinically vulnerable has been told to stay at home unless it is necessary to leave the house.

People are allowed to go outside for exercise, work, or to get medical attention. Shopping for basic necessities, and providing or seeking childcare is also allowed. You cannot meet people you do not live with.

Cllr Greenhalgh added: "We all need to keep doing the basics – limit our contact with others; stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out such as for essential supplies and daily exercise.

"Keep at least two metres apart when you are in contact with others; regularly wash your hands, and wear face coverings, even in outdoor spaces, so you don’t pass on the disease unknowingly.”

The calls came as the Prime Minister warned that tougher lockdown measures could be needed.

Boris Johnson stressed “now is the moment for maximum vigilance", as infection rates soared in several parts of the country.

He said people needed to follow the existing guidance, and adhering to the rules was more important than bringing in new measures.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, warned the UK has not yet hit the peak of the current wave of Covid-19 infections, with the next few weeks being “the worst” of the pandemic for the NHS.

He said the vaccine rollout offered hope that lockdown restrictions could be lifted in the coming months but described the current UK death and case rate as an “appalling situation”.

During a BBC phone-in on the current high case rates, he said: “I don’t think we’re yet at the peak, I’m afraid.

“I think we will be at the peak if everybody can double down and absolutely minimise their contacts.

“The point of the lockdown is to bring that forward, but it only works if everyone really thinks about every individual interaction they have and try and minimise them.”

Currently, around one in 50 people in England is infected.