Boris Johnson cancels Christmas for millions as concern mounts over coronavirus variant

Boris Johnson cancels Christmas for millions as concern mounts over coronavirus variant

The British prime minister announced that from Sunday areas in the South East currently in Tier 3 will be moved into a new Tier 4 - effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.

Boris Johnson has cancelled Christmas for millions of people across London and south-east England after scientists said that a new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly.

The British prime minister announced that from Sunday areas in the South East currently in Tier 3 will be moved into a new Tier 4 - effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.

Non-essential shops, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys will be forced to close for two weeks - while people will be restricted to meeting one other person from another household in an outdoor public space.

The rest of England will also see the Christmas "bubble" policy - allowing up to three household to meet up over the holiday period - severely curtailed, applying on Christmas Day only.

Mr Johnson told a news conference that he was making the changes with a "very heavy heart".

"I know how much emotion people invest in this time of year, and how important it is, for instance, for grandparents to see their grandchildren, 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."

The move comes after scientists on the British government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NervTag) concluded that the mutant strain identified by Public Health England - known as VUI2020/01 - was spreading more quickly.

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