London and the South East have been told to stay at home this Christmas as we are plunged into new Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions in England.
The Prime Minister said the new restrictions are similar to the restrictions seen in the Spring, and those in the areas will not be allowed to mix households over the festive season.
The previous rule that people would be allowed to form a “Christmas Bubble” for five days, has been scaled back to just Christmas Day across all of England.
People living in Tier 4 are not allowed to travel outside of their area and would be restricted to meeting only one other person not in their household in an outdoor space.
Those living in Tier 4 will also not be allowed to travel abroad.
Boris Johnson said the Government was becoming increasingly alarmed over the discovery of a new variant of coronavirus, which can be spread more quickly.
Speaking on Saturday during the Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said the new variant was “passed on significantly more easily”, and could be up to 70% more transmissible.
He added there was no evidence the new strain was any more deadly or resistant against the vaccine.
Ministers had been mulling over the possibility of a Tier 4 – which would see people being told to stay at home with commuting banned, schools would stay shut for an extra week, and non-essential shops would be shut.
This follows an emergency cabinet meeting called earlier this afternoon called by Boris Johnson to discuss the measures.
Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty said the UK had now informed the World Health Organisation of the mutant strain, and Mr Johnson was reported to have held an unscheduled meeting of ministers on Friday amid “growing concern” over it.
On Friday night it was reported that some hospitals in Kent were completely full – just hours after postponing all non-urgent procedures.
Several other NHS trusts have announced similar measures throughout the week as they face rapidly growing numbers of Covid-19 patients.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has previously endorsed ‘Tier 4’ as a way of controlling the spread of the virus.