London and much of the south and east of England are placed in the top tier where people are encouraged to stay at home

Boris Johnson has issued a new “Stay at Home” order for London and much of the south and east of England, drastically curtailing plans for a nationwide Christmas mix in response to a new, fast-spreading strain of coronavirus

Just days after the prime minister reaffirmed the festive “bubble” plan and claimed it was “inhuman” to cancel Christmas, he announced the creation of a new, stricter “Tier 4”

Only households living outside of this area are now allowed to mingle in England for Christmas – and then only for a single day, the 25th December, long-distance travel is not recommended

“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to tell you that we cannot continue Christmas as planned,” said the Prime Minister, insisting that there was no alternative

“I know how much emotions people invest in this time of year and how important it is, for example, that grandparents see their grandchildren and that families are together,” he said. “We said during this pandemic that we were from must and will be guided by science When science changes, we must change our response ”

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have been briefed on the situation and have announced their own plans

The new Tier 4 rules go into effect at midnight and are similar to those in effect during the four-week November lockdown

Non-essential retail, leisure, and contact services such as hairdressers are not allowed to reopen after they close on Saturday

The public is instructed to stay at home, with a few exceptions such as exercising.The only mixing with other households allowed in Tier 4 is to hang out with another person outdoors

The affected area includes all of London and much of the south and east of England, including Kent, most of Essex, most of Surrey, and Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, parts of Bedfordshire, Gosport, Portsmouth and Peterborough

The Prime Minister said travel is not recommended anywhere in England. “We ask everyone at all levels to stay there,” he said

The restrictions were announced by the Prime Minister at a hastily convened press conference on Saturday along with Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance. They will initially be in effect for a fortnight

When asked if existing guidelines like the 2 meter distancing rule might need to be changed, Whitty said the same measures would still be in effect, but “we have to do a lot more to stand still”

Johnson announced the draconian new restrictions after evidence was presented to him on Friday evening that the new strain of coronavirus, recently identified in the capital and Kent, is spreading faster than the previous strain

Johnson said the government advisory group on New and Emerging Respiratory Viruses (Nervtag) estimated that the new variant could be up to 70% more transmissible

Scientists still have no evidence that the new variant has a higher mortality rate or affects the effectiveness of vaccines or treatments for Covid

However, government scientific advisors are increasingly concerned about evidence and models that suggest it is spreading very quickly.In particular, there were concerns that the spread of the virus had not decreased in Kent despite the Tier 3 county. Restrictions were subject to

The weekly average case rate for England has increased more than 66% in the past 14 days and in London it has almost doubled in the past week The new variant accounts for 60% of infections in London

The plans were confirmed in a cabinet appeal Saturday afternoon, and the Prime Minister also spoke to Labor leader Keir Starmer to discuss them

Just three days ago, Johnson mocked Starmer with a desire to “cancel Christmas” because he insisted that the government adhere to stricter regulations that allow up to three families to mingle for up to five days

Instead of changing the rules, the Prime Minister had warned the public to be careful: “A smaller Christmas will be a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas“

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the announcement was a “bitter blow to Londoners who hoped to safely spend time with loved ones this Christmas”

He urged the government to “significantly increase mass testing” and increase financial support for businesses and self-employed who are affected by the restrictions

UK Coronavirus

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/19/pm-announces-tier-4-covid-curbs-and-curtails-christmas-mixing-in-england