Boris Johnson canceled Christmas for millions of people in London and southeastern England after scientists said a new corona virus variant was spreading faster.
This means that any Irish living in London will not be able to return home to Ireland for Christmas.
The British Prime Minister has announced that the current tier 3 will be moved from the southeastern regions to the new tier 4 – effectively returning to the November lockdown rules.
The Prime Minister said: “We are giving up the opportunity to see our loved ones this Christmas so that we have a better chance of saving their lives so that we can see them in the future Christmas.”
Unnecessary shops, gyms, movie theaters, hairdressers and binging spaces will be forced to close for two weeks – while people will restrict people from meeting another person from another home in a public place.
The rest of England will also see a Christmas “bubble” policy – allowing three employees to meet during the holidays – strictly cut, applying only on Christmas day.
The move comes after scientists at the government’s new and emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Advisory Group (NERTOG) decided that the mutant problem identified by Public Health England – known as VUI2020 / 01 – was spreading faster.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the new variant of the virus, which causes Kovid-19, can increase the pressure by up to 70 percent, increasing the R value by 0.4.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The scientific evidence for a new variant of the #corona virus is serious. If you are in Tier 4, you should stay home from tomorrow to protect the NHS and save lives. Thank you to everyone who played their part in the national effort. ”
Johnson was briefed on the group’s conclusions during a meeting with ministers on Friday evening, and the cabinet signed the new rules in a conference call on Saturday afternoon.
The Prime Minister said the government was following scientific advice on changes to the corona virus controls.
When asked at a Downing Street press conference, “Is it negligent to offer a five-day Christmas against scientific advice?” Johnson said: “We have always taken scientific advice into account and always tried to follow it, and that is what we do today.
“Because science is clearly changing, our understanding of this new virus and its transmission has changed drastically in the last 24 hours.”
Johnson added: “We can not ignore it, which is why we are taking these extra steps to protect the country.”
Although Boris Johnson acknowledged that the corona virus crisis was a “suspiciously difficult moment”, he said that Easter would be radically different because of the vaccine.
“As usual, we will do everything we can to maintain the business and look after jobs and livelihoods,” he said.
“Through the loan scheme, we will continue it with furloughing – the Chancellor has now extended it to the end of April.
“We will continue to maintain businesses that are forced to close as a result of what is happening, and they will receive the protections that we have imposed.”
“This is a ‘race’ and the government is doing our best to protect the public and we know the vaccine is coming,” Johnson said.
“I am more confident than ever that the vaccine will reach a significant proportion of the population by spring and that things will be completely different for our country this Easter month,” he said.
Under the new “stay at home” order, one-third of England’s population will be told not to stay away from home at night and that outsiders will not be allowed to visit Tier 4 areas.
Nicola Sturgeon said all corona virus controls will be applied in key areas of Scotland for three weeks from boxing day.
Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has announced that he will bring Alert Level 4 restrictions to apply across Wales from midnight.
Drakeford said broadcasting in London and the south-east of England, which has been linked to a new variant of the corona virus, will “be very consistent with the rapid transmission in Wales” in the coming weeks.
In a statement, Drakeford said new evidence was “across Wales” and needed an “immediate response.”
The Welsh government’s cabinet met on Saturday to discuss the “new development of the Pandemic” and the advice of senior medical and scientific advisers, including the impact on the NHS Wales.
“The situation is incredibly serious. I can’t overestimate this, “said Drakeford.
In line with the measures taken in London and the southeastern part of England, it came to a difficult decision to bring Alert Level 4 restrictions forward for Wales.
“These new regulations will take effect from midnight today, instead of the Christmas season.”