The PM broke the news Saturday that London and the southeast of England, where cases are surging, will go into Tier 4 restrictions, similar to a lockdown, on Sunday.
“The spread is being driven by the new variant of the virus,” Johnson said in a hastily called press conference. “It appears to spread more easily and may be up to 70% more transmissable than the earlier strain.”
“This is now spreading very fast,” Johnson warned. “It is with a very heavy heart that I say we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.”
Johnson outlined that in areas under the toughest restrictions, there will be no possibility for household mixing over Christmas. In areas under Tier 3, mixing will now be restricted to Christmas Day.
Alert Level 4 restrictions will be brought forward to apply across Wales from midnight, the country’s First Minister Mark Drakeford announced Saturday, meaning that “festive bubbles” can be formed only on Christmas Day, PA Media reported. Under Alert Level 4, people must stay at home except for very limited purposes, and must not meet with other households or meet people they do not live with, while many businesses are required to close.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday said a strict travel ban would be implemented throughout the Christmas period north of the border, warning that people from Scotland should not visit other parts of the UK, and vice versa.
“In order to reduce the risk of more of the coronavirus strain being imported into Scotland, we intend to maintain a strict travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK,” Sturgeon said.
Meanwhile, the toughest level of coronavirus restrictions will be applied to all of mainland Scotland for three weeks from Boxing Day, she added.
No changes in Northern Ireland’s restrictions have yet been announced.
Critics lambast Johnson’s handling of pandemic
As recently as this week, Johnson reiterated his pledge to relax rules over the Christmas period, allowing up to three households to mix for five days. But as of Saturday, the entire nation is being asked not to travel and those under the highest level of restrictions, will not be allowed to travel abroad except for work purposes.
Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour party, criticized the government’s handling of the crisis, saying: “Many people will be heartbroken by the news that their Christmas plans are being ripped up.
“I’m really frustrated because I raised this with the Prime Minister on Wednesday, and he dismissed that. He went on to tell people to have a ‘merry little Christmas,’ only three days later, to rip up…
Go to the news source: New strain of Covid-19: Boris Johnson backtracks on relaxing Christmas rules