New four-tier restrictions are to be enforced in high-risk areas across England, Boris Johnson has announced today. The decision has been made after the critical discovery that the new ‘strain’ of Covid-19 has ‘up to a 70% higher transmission rate’. Stringent conversations have been had and Mr Johnson says: ‘We must take action now’. With Christmas fast approaching, what will this news mean for the festive season?
The main points from Downing Street
- A new strain of Covid-19 is said to be ‘up-to 70% more transmissable than the old variant’.
- Scientific evidence from the last 24 hours has suggested that rapidly increasing Covid-19 cases in the South-East are being ‘driven’ by the new strain, according to the PM.
- From tomorrow morning London, the South East and some of Eastern England will enter Tier-Four.
- The Christmas relaxation period is ‘scrapped’ and we are all urged to remain at home. However, those in Tiers one, two and three will still be allowed to bubble with up-to three households on Christmas Day only.
What does Tier Four mean for those affected?
- From 00:01hrs on 20th December, Tier-Four will be enforced.
- Tier-four areas urged to ‘stay at home’.
- Residents must not travel out of their area and household mixing will not be allowed.
- All non-essential businesses must close, including indoor gyms and retail.
- Communal worship may still take place, but people are urged to not move out of area.
- A two-week review will take place on 30th December, PM says.
Sheffield and South Yorkshire will remain in tier three which means that up to three households are allowed to meet on Christmas Day only.
Professor Whitty, who joined Mr Johnson in the latest announcement, advises what a ‘small’ Christmas should be. ‘Keep it small, keep it short, keep it local, and remember the vulnerable are vulnerable”. Visiting a family member for a few hours, is arguably safer than spending a full day around the dinner table.
The promise of the Pfizer vaccine, remains significant. It is important not to undo the hard work we have put in so far, some professionals have said. It is also advised to keep distanced from those who are particularly vulnerable, a grandparent for example, and act as if we are ‘infected’. This seems drastic, but the disease is often transmitted asymptomatically.
While today’s precipitous news has left many flattened and upset, we must remind ourselves of the difficulties we have lived through this year. The disease was not going to take its foot off the gas this Christmas and we must continue with ‘hands, face, space’. If you have been affected by any of today’s news, please see the below helplines.
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