Image above: Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing that London is going into Tier 4
Following a meeting of the Covid Operations Committee, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from midnight on Saturday 19 December, London, the South East and various parts of the East of England would go into a new Tier 4 of anti Covid restrictions, equivalent to the national restrictions which were in place in November.
The last minute cancellation of Christmas meant there were many tearful phone calls on Saturday night as families unpicked their plans. England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty told the nation: “unpack your bags”.
With sharply rising levels of infection, many people were uncertain about travelling to visit relatives, but just three days before the prime minister had reinforced the idea that families would be able to spend Christmas together.
What changed his mind was the spread of the new variant of coronavirus.
Tier 4 rules
- Stay at home, except for limited exemptions
- Non-essential retail, indoor gyms, leisure facilities and personal care facilities must close
- People must work from home if they can, but can travel to work if this is not possible
- People should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home
- Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space
- Unlike the November national restrictions, communal worship can continue to take place in Tier 4 areas
To see full details of Tier 4 restrictions see Government guidance.
We may be in Tier 4 for months
All areas will be kept continually under review, with the next formal review taking place on Wednesday 30 December, but Health Secretary Matthew Hancock told Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday that the restrictions may have to stay in place until the new vaccines have been rolled out.
“What is really important is that people not only follow them (the new rules) but everyone in a Tier 4 area acts as if you have the virus to stop spreading it to other people”.
The prime minister said he was “bitterly disappointed” to have to cancel Christmas, but “When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defence.”
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