The Prime Minister made the surprise announcement today that a new ‘Tier 4’ was to be introduced from midnight tonight.
It is similar to the national lockdown in November with non-essential retail, 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.
Only days ago, Mr Johnson claimed it was ‘inhumane’ to cancel the Christmas holiday.
But he claimed today that the new measures are needed to combat a new strain of Covid called VUI202012/01, which is said to be up to 70 per cent more contagious.
Only days ago, Mr Johnson claimed it was ‘inhumane’ to cancel the Christmas holiday. He claimed he made the new announcements ‘with a heavy heart’
Speaking to a Downing Street news conference, Boris Johnson announced the new measures ‘with a heavy heart’.
He said: ‘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 news was met by fierce criticism, including from Conservative MPs.
Tory rebel Stever Baker tweeted: ‘Sad day. Lockdowns have failed in slowing the transmission of Covid.
‘Now Govt expects people to sacrifice sharing Xmas with family & friends, just a few days after promising the opposite
‘We need a clear exit strategy from this nightmarish, cycle of damaging lockdowns.’
Conservative Member of Parliament for Buckingham constituency, Greg Smith, tweeted: ‘The tier 4 ruling brings more devastation to communities across the Buckingham constituency – when we should not have even been in tier 3 anyway.
‘Parliament must be recalled, these measures subject to full scrutiny and voted on.’
The rest of England will see the Christmas “bubble” policy – allowing up to three household to meet up over the holiday period – severely curtailed, applying on Christmas Day only.
People throughout England are advised to “stay local” and avoid overseas travel, while those in Tier 4 will only be able to go abroad for essential business
Under the new “stay at home” order – covering around a third of the population of England – people in Tier 4 will be told they should not stay away from home overnight and people from outside will be advised not to visit Tier 4 areas.
People throughout England are advised to “stay local” and avoid overseas travel, while those in Tier 4 will only be able to go abroad for essential business.
The new Tier 4 restrictions will apply in all Tier 3 areas in the South East – covering Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.
It will also apply in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the East of England – Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
Exemptions to the “stay at home” message which applied in the November lockdown, will also apply in the new Tier 4 – including support bubbles, childcare bubbles and children whose parents are separated.
People will be allowed to travel for education, childcare and to go to work if they cannot work from home and they will be permitted unlimited outdoor exercise.
The new rules come from the advice of the government’s new Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NervTag).
The Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has briefed the devolved administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the group’s findings.