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Breaking News – Christmas ‘cancelled’ in England

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The planned relaxation of Covid rules for Christmas has been scrapped for large parts of south-east England and cut to just Christmas Day for the rest of England and Wales.

From midnight, a new tier four will be introduced in areas including London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire.

For the rest of England and Wales, relaxed rules on household mixing are cut from five days to Christmas Day.

Those in tier four cannot mix indoors with anyone not from their household.

What is tier four and who is in it?

A new, tougher fourth tier of coronavirus restrictions for London and south-east England has been announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The decision follows information presented to Mr Johnson about a new variant of the coronavirus.

From midnight on Sunday 20 December tier four restrictions – similar to the last national lockdown in November – will apply in all tier three areas across the south and east of England.

A stay at home order is being issued to residents – although those who have to travel for education or work may continue to do so.

Social mixing will be restricted to meeting one other person from outside your household in an open public space.

All non-essential retail will have to close, along with hairdressers, nail bars and indoor entertainment venues.

Support bubbles remain unaffected, as do the exemptions for separated parents and their children.

No-one in tier four will be allowed to join Christmas Day bubbles in tiers one to three.

The measures will be formally reviewed on 30 December.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes for England at a Downing Street briefing after scientists said a new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly.

Tier four restrictions will apply in all tier three 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, Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that the whole of Wales will be placed under lockdown from midnight.

For tier-four areas in England, a stay-at-home order has been issued, with exemptions for those who have to travel to work or for education.

Social mixing will be cut to meeting one person in an open public space.

All non-essential retail will have to close, along with hairdressers, nail bars, indoor gyms and leisure facilities.

People will be advised not to travel into a tier four area.

The restrictions will last for two weeks, with the first review due on 30 December.

Mr Johnson told the Downing Street briefing: “I know how disappointing this will be, but we have said throughout this pandemic that we must and we will be guided by the science.

“When the science changes, we must change our response. When the virus changes its methods of attack we must change our method of defence and as your prime minister I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me.”

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