Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a full lockdown on London and large parts of southeast England and told the public across the country to avoid travel, in a desperate attempt to stop a new strain of coronavirus that is spreading rapidly in the UK, Bloomberg reported Saturday.
After emergency talks with his most senior officials, Johnson canceled plans to ease pandemic restrictions for five days during the holiday. Household mixing will be banned in London and the south-east and socializing restricted to just Christmas Day across the rest of England.
The premier announced a new Tier 4 will apply in the hot-spot areas around the capital from Sunday, with all non-essential shops closing, millions of people ordered to stay at home and all foreign travel banned except for essential purposes. Johnson urged people across England to “stay local” and not travel far. He promised the new rules will be reviewed on Dec. 30.
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“When the virus changes its method of attack we must change our method of defense,” Johnson said at a news conference. “Without action the evidence suggests infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives.”
The dramatic escalation in the government’s pandemic response was triggered by a new strain of the virus that is virtually unique to the UK Emerging scientific evidence suggests the new strain can spread significantly more quickly than previous strains in circulation and is behind a huge surge in infections in recent days.
Covid-19 case rates nearly doubled in London over the past week, with almost 60% of these infections attributed to the new strain of the virus, according to government officials.
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