The festive bubble policy across Tier 1, 2 and 3 areas of England will be dramatically scaled back to just Christmas Day, the Prime Minister has said.
Boris Johnson said people will no longer be able to form ‘bubbles’ from 23 - 27 December.
He also announced a travel ban for the South East ahead of Christmas in a bid to prevent a new strain of COVID-19 from spreading rapidly.
He said: “Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, the potential risk it poses, it is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.”
The PM added: “In England, those living in tier four areas should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation.
“Across the rest of the country, the Xmas rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only rather than the five days as previously set out.
“As before, there will be no relaxation on the 31 January so people must not break the rules at New Year. It’s very important to emphasise that.”
Johnson said as Prime Minster he believed there was “no alternative open to me”.
He said: “Without action the evidence suggests that infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives.”
The PM added: “Yes Christmas this year will be different, very different.
“We’re sacrificing the chance to see our loved ones this Christmas so that we have a better chance of protecting their loves, so that we can see them at future Christmases.
“And as sure as night follows day we will beat this virus, we’ll defeat it and reclaim our lives.”
What is Tier 4?
Under the new “stay at home” order – covering around a third of the population of England – people in Tier 4 will be told they should not stay away from home overnight and people from outside will be advised not to visit Tier 4 areas.
People throughout England are advised to “stay local” and avoid overseas travel, while those in Tier 4 will only be able to go abroad for essential business.
The new Tier 4 restrictions will apply in all Tier 3 areas in the South East – 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 and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
Exemptions to the “stay at home” message which applied in the November lockdown, will also apply in the new Tier 4 – including support bubbles, childcare bubbles and children whose parents are separated.
People will be allowed to travel for education, childcare and to go to work if they cannot work from home and they will be permitted unlimited outdoor exercise.
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