Christmas 'cancelled' for millions of Brits as government imposes Tier 4 restrictions

The whole of London and parts of the south-east and east of England have had tighter restrictions imposed on them to tackle a new variant of the virus that is spreading fast.

The planned relaxation of coronavirus rules at Christmas has been scrapped for tier four areas. People will only be allowed to celebrate Christmas with members of their own household and support bubbles, and only for a day.

Boris Johnson announced the Tier 4 restrictions at a Downing Street press conference on Saturday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed a new strain of the virus had been found on Monday, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said it could spread “more quickly.”

He said: “We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding. There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this.”

All areas of England have been placed in one of four tiers, depending on factors such as how fast Covid is spreading and pressure on hospitals.

People in tiers one to three are advised not to travel into the new tier four areas.

The rules will be reviewed in two weeks’ time, on December 30 as part of wider review of all restrictions.

How were the tiers decided?

The decisions on tiers were based on several factors including, total number of Covid cases in an area, the number of cases in the over-60s, pressure on the NHS, the rate at which cases are rising or falling and the number of tests that are coming back positive

The proportion of test results coming back positive

Rules in Scotland

The rules in Scotland are being tightened. All non-essential cross-border travel between Scotland and England has been banned throughout the festive period.

Indoor mixing will only be allowed on Christmas Day and a maximum of eight people from three households permitted.

"If you can't make it there and back in the same day, please don't go," First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told reporters. "Our advice is to still not mix with other households on Christmas Day if you can."

From Boxing Day, level four lockdown measures will be introduced across all of mainland Scotland for a period of three weeks. Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and other island communities will be placed in level three.