Spread of new Covid stress forces locks with a « stay at home » alarm for London and Southeast
The nation’s Christmas plans were thrown into chaos last night after Boris Johnson dramatically abandoned his attempts to avoid stricter Covid restrictions and instead put millions of people under new lockdown measures in an attempt to contain a highly contagious new strain virus.
In a major U-turn that sparked an immediate backlash from his party, the Prime Minister placed new Tier 4 restrictions on a third of the UK population to counter a strain of Covid believed to be up to 70% more is transferable than previous variants.
It means that people in an area in the south east and east of England and in London cannot mingle with other households at all over Christmas. A stay at home notice will be put in law, and non-essential businesses, indoor recreation and entertainment will be closed. The measures will be reviewed in two weeks and extensive policing is planned for New Year’s Eve.
In the rest of the country, plans for five-day Christmas bubbles for up to three households have been drastically scaled back. The rules now only apply to Christmas Day in England. Johnson urges all meetings to be short and small.
When the Prime Minister of No.. Speaking 10, he said that without action, « infections would rise, hospitals would be overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives ». . He added, « Yes, Christmas this year is going to be different, very different. « . We sacrifice the chance to see loved ones so that we have a better chance to save their lives so that we can see them at Christmas in the future. â ????
Chris Whitty, England’s chief physician, told anyone who packed a bag to leave Tier 4: « Please unpack it ». He said the rate of hospital admissions rose rapidly in areas where the variant was paramount, with tier 3 measures failing to stem the increase in cases. He said anyone who travels despite his advice creates « significant risk ». to spread the new variety.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, yesterday introduced a travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK to stay in effect over Christmas. The law will be changed so that a maximum of eight people may only be mixed in the household on Christmas Day. Wales put forward its plans for stricter Tier 4 restrictions, limiting Christmas bubbles to Christmas Day. Mark Drakeford, the first Welsh minister, warned that evidence suggests the new Covid strain is « present across Wales ». .
Everyone in England’s Tier 4 is not allowed to stay away from home overnight, and anyone who lives elsewhere is advised not to enter a Tier 4 area. Those covered by the new measures can continue to travel or work for education and exercise if they cannot work from home. One person can meet another person outside in a public space. Support bladders for the vulnerable stay in place.
Senior ministers met on Friday to discuss the discovery of the new strain of Covid-19. Another cabinet meeting was held on Saturday to agree the new measures, which will take effect from 00. Sunday at 1 a.m..
The decision to reconsider Christmas plans comes days after Johnson accused Labor leader Keir Starmer of « wanting to cancel Christmas ». after calling for stricter restrictions. There was trouble among Tory MPs last night. Mark Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, called for a vote in parliament. Lockdowns and increasingly stringent tiered restrictions have failed to achieve their goal of slowing the transmission of Covid. And now the government expects people to sacrifice the chance to share Christmas with family, friends and loved ones just days after promising otherwise. â ????
Ministers took action after 60% of infections in London were due to the new variant of the virus. There were also concerns that cases in Kent were not covered by Tier 3 measures. While the variant is thought to be more contagious, there is no evidence that it has a higher death rate, causes more serious illness, or is vaccine resistant.
Scientists warned that the tough new measures may need to be rolled out nationwide. « We should remember that this exposure increased rapidly during the last lockdown. « said Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government’s scientific advisory group. To prevent it from spreading, we need to impose even stricter restrictions. It is likely that the virus has spread much further than it did in the southeast. Therefore, action needs to be taken across much of the UK to achieve the desired effect. â ????
Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the Observer that the rapid spread of a new genetic variant of the Covid-19 virus had « thrown a wrench in the works ». in terms of curbing its spread. We don’t know enough yet, but what worries me is that this new variant appeared at a time and place when the number of cases among secondary school students, mainly in London and the South East, was growing rapidly. If this new variant is behind the rise in this age group, that’s a big concern. â ????
Professor Ravindra Gupta of Cambridge University urged that vaccines be switched to the most vulnerable target areas. The variant contains a number of mutations that mean we should control transmission through social restrictions as we work to learn more about the effects these mutations have on virus behavior. We should seriously think about a regional focus for the vaccine. â ????
Last night’s move follows an outcry from doctors over previous plans for more relaxed Christmas bubbles. Thousands of frontline doctors have sounded the alarm over the five-day blending rules. When asked about their concerns about the effects of the proposed relaxation, 65% of doctors said they were « extremely concerned » according to a survey by the British Medical Association of doctors. Thousands have responded to the survey. Two fifths said they were not confident that their department could deal with Covid patients this winter. NHS chiefs warned of the Christmas season impact on healthcare this weekend. « We were talking about a perfect storm, » said Chris Hopson, director of NHS providers. « I certainly feel we are probably on our way there » and in many places we have now reached the leading edge of this storm. â ????
Boris Johnson, Coronavirus, Christmas Day, UK
World News – AU – Johnson U-turn leaves the nation’s Christmas plans in tatters
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