British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference flanked by Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, right, and Patrick Vallance, UK Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government in Response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) situation at 10 Downing Street, London, Saturday, December 19, 2020 (Toby Melville / pool photo via AP)

London and south-east England could stay under tighter coronavirus curbs for some time, the UK health minister suggested on Sunday, adding that a rapidly spreading new strain was forcing the government to drop plans to relax Christmas restrictions

The government has been criticized for effectively banning more than 16 million people a few days before Christmas However, Matt Hancock said Saturday’s decision was made quickly after new evidence showed the new tribe was responsible for the spiral of COVID-19 cases

The variant, which official figures say is up to 70% more transmissible than the original, also gave cause for concern about its widespread use.Several European countries, including Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, said they were taking measures to prevent the arrival of people from the UK, including flight and train bans

On Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson abruptly tore open plans to allow three households to mingle indoors for five days during the festive period and imposed new Level 4 curbs on London and south-east England – similar to a national lockdown in March. p>

Hancock suggested that the more stringent measures, which require about a third of the population of England to stay at home except for essential reasons such as work, could remain in place until vaccinations became widely available

“Essentially, we need to introduce this vaccine to keep people safe, given how much faster this new variant is spreading, it will be very difficult to keep it under control until we get the vaccine in.” p>

Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labor Party, said at a press conference that although he supported the new measures, “the prime minister will be back until the 11th Hour waited to make that decision”

“The alarm bells have been ringing for weeks, but the prime minister has decided to ignore them. He told the country to have a merry Christmas and yet three days later he is urging millions of families to tear these plans apart,” he said, referring to the situation on comments Johnson made on Wednesday

Shortly after Johnson announced the changes on Saturday afternoon, some went to train stations in London to try to travel to see relatives over Christmas and there were scenes of crowds – something Hancock described as “completely irresponsible” ”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged people not to travel under the new restrictions. More UK traffic cops have been deployed to ensure that “only those who need to make important trips can travel safely,” he said in a statement

The UKThe other nations, whose response to the pandemic is different from England’s, have also taken action. Scotland imposed a travel ban on the rest of the UK, effectively closing the border and limiting Christmas relief to December just 25

All of Wales will be included in Tier 4 from midnight, but two households may mix on Christmas Day

Non-essential retail stores as well as places like gyms and hair salons have closed in Tier 4 areas, and some companies have called the new measures a “real kick in the teeth” “

Hancock said the government recognized that the economic impact of the new measures would be “severe” but that it needed to weigh it against the health consequences

Like other countries in Europe, the UK is struggling to contain new waves of the virus052 new COVID-19 cases reported, more than 2 million in total, and 534 more deaths, bringing the official casualty figure to over 67000 increased

An epidemiologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, Emma Hodcroft, said on Twitter that the pressures in Great Britain and South Africa are not the same

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World news – CA – Tougher UK Coronavirus curbs can take some time, health minister suggests