CHRISTMAS plans across large parts of Britain have been cancelled this week, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s introduction of Tier 4 lockdown restrictions over the weekend.
As of Sunday, December 20, the whole of London and the South East, as well as some parts of the east of England, find themselves in the new highest tier of coronavirus restrictions, Tier 4.
The move is in response to a new strain of the Covid-19 virus, which has been found to be spreading rapidly through those parts of the country and has proved to be 70 per cent more contagious than the original strain, which first hit Britain earlier this year.
Announced by Mr Johnson on December 19, the Tier 4 status requires people to stay at home and forces all non-essential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities and personal care services to close.
It also means households are not allowed to mix indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless they are in a support bubble, and bans those living in Tier 4 areas from moving between tiers and from travelling abroad.
As a result, great swathes of people across the country will now spend Christmas alone, or without seeing their family this week.
There are new restrictions for the remainder of the country also, with the Prime Minister confirming that the planned Christmas rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only, rather than the five days previously set out.
“As Prime Minister, it is my duty to take the difficult decisions, to do what is right to protect the people of this country,” Mr Johnson said as he announced the changes.
“Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, and the potential risk it poses, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.”
He admitted: “I know how much emotion people invest in this time of year, and how important it is for grandparents to see their grandchildren, and for families to be together.
“So I know how disappointing this will be, but we have said throughout this pandemic that we must and we will be guided by the science.
“When the science changes, we must change our response. When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defence.”
He added: As your Prime Minister, I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me. “Without action, the evidence suggests infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives.”
The new tiers are set to be reviewed on December 30.