The PM broke the news on Saturday that London and the south-east of England, where cases are rising, would be a lockdown, similar to the Tier 4 sanctions on Sunday.
“The virus is spreading through new variants,” Johnson said in a hasty press conference. “It appears to spread more easily and may be 70% more permeable than earlier stresses.”
“It’s spreading very fast now,” Johnson warned. “It is with a heavy heart that I say we cannot continue Christmas as planned.”
Johnson underlined that in areas with the toughest restrictions, a home mix would be unlikely over Christmas. In areas under Tier 3, the mix will now be limited to Christmas Day.
PA media reported that Alert Level 4 restrictions would be brought forward to be implemented in Wales from midnight, with the country’s first minister Mark Drakeford announcing on Saturday that “festive bubbles” could only form on Christmas day . Under Alert Level 4, people must stay home, except for very limited purposes, and must not meet in other homes or meet people with whom they do not live, while many businesses are required to close.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Saturday that a strict travel ban would be implemented during the Christmas period north of the border, warning that Scottish people would not travel to other parts of the UK, and vice versa.
“The intention is to maintain a strict travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK, in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus virus being imported into Scotland,” Sturgeon said.
Meanwhile, the toughest level of coronovirus ban for three weeks from Boxing Day will be implemented for all of mainland Scotland.
No changes to Northern Ireland’s sanctions have yet been announced.
Critics advise Johnson to tackle the epidemic
As recently as this week, Johnson reiterated his pledge to relax the rules over the Christmas period, allowing three families to mix for five days. But as of Saturday, the entire country is being asked not to travel and will not be allowed to travel abroad, except for work purposes, under the highest level of restriction on them.
Leader of the opposition Labor Party, Keir Starr, criticized the government’s handling of the crisis, saying: “Many people will be offended by the news that their Christmas plans are being scrapped.
“I’m really disappointed because I picked it up with the Prime Minister on Wednesday, and they rejected it. They said that people had to say ‘Merry little Christmas’, only three days later, to fulfill their plans.” Asked for. ” Said on Sky News.
Experts want clarity on new strain of virus immediately
According to Whitty, the new version accounted for 60% of infections in London, nearly doubling in the past week.
Earlier, he said that the “urgent work” is underway to determine whether the new strain prevailing in the south-east of England may cause mortality.
“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain, which leads to higher mortality or affects vaccines and treatment, but immediate work is underway to confirm this,” Whitty said in a statement.
Like other new variants or strains of the Kovid-19, it carries a genetic fingerprint that makes it easy to track, and is one that is now common. This does not mean that the mutation has spread it more easily, nor does it mean that this variation is more dangerous.
Many experts in the genetics and epidemiology of the virus are noting that this may be a “lucky” strain that has been amplified due to the superspreader event; It can be a mutation in any way and spreads it more easily without causing more serious disease; Or it can happen just by coincidence.
The government’s scientific advisory group for Kovid-19 has also warned that the new strain is a “real cause for concern” and called for immediate action. On Twitter, Jeremy Farrar said, “Research is underway to make more sense, but it’s important to act immediately. There is no part of the UK and globally that shouldn’t be worried. As the situation is fragile in many countries. “
Whitty also urged people to be more careful. “Given this latest development, it is now more important than ever that the public continue to take action in their region to reduce transmission,” he said.