AVRUPA TIMES/LONDON-From midnight, a new tier four will be introduced in areas including London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire. Those in tier four cannot mix indoors with anyone not from their household. Elsewhere in England, Scotland and Wales, relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes for England at a Downing Street briefing after scientists said a new coronavirus variant was spreading more rapidly.
Tier-four restrictions - similar to England's second national lockdown - will apply in all areas in the South East currently in tier three, 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, Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
In Scotland, Covid restrictions will only be relaxed on Christmas Day, with mainland Scotland being placed under the tightest restrictions from Boxing Day.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that the country will be placed under lockdown from midnight.
There are no plans at the moment to change the current Christmas restrictions in Northern Ireland, we understands. The country is set to enter a six-week lockdown from 26 December.
- For tier-four areas in England, a stay-at-home order has been issued, with exemptions for those who have to travel to work or for education.
- Social mixing will be cut to meeting one person in an open public space.
- All non-essential retail will have to close, along with hairdressers, nail bars, indoor gyms and leisure facilities.
- People will be advised not to travel into a tier-four area.
- The restrictions will last for two weeks, with the first review due on 30 December.
Mr Johnson told the Downing Street briefing: "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 methods of attack we must change our method of defence and as your prime minister I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me."Mr Johnson acknowledged it was "unquestionably a difficult moment" in the coronavirus crisis but insisted that things would be "radically different" by Easter due to the vaccine.He did not confirm whether police would be told to stop people travelling home over the festive period or knock on doors on Christmas Day.