Covid-19: UK tightens Covid rules amid fear of new coronavirus variant

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The United Kingdom government has announced tightened Covid-19 rules in parts of London, the South East and the East of England owing to a sharp rise in cases in the area.

These regions will now be under a strict lockdown with Tier-4 restrictions. Apart from this, the government has also removed relaxations that were previously announced for Christmas.

The new changes were announced owing to a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and warnings against a new variant of the virus which is likely to be more infectious.

Tough restrictions

“I was briefed on the latest data showing the virus spreading more rapidly in London, the South East and the East of England than would be expected given the tough restrictions which are already in place,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. “I also received an explanation for why the virus is spreading more rapidly in these areas. It appears this spread is now being driven by the new variant of the virus, which we first learned about earlier this week,” Johnson said.

“We will introduce new restrictions in the most affected areas — specifically those parts of London, the South East and the East of England which are currently in Tier-3. These areas will enter a new Tier-4, which will be broadly equivalent to the national restrictions which were in place in England in November,” he said.

The findings related to the new variant of the virus have also been submitted to the World Health Organisation.

Residents in areas with Tier-4 restrictions will have limited exemptions set out in law to step outside while non-essential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities and personal care services will remain closed.

People have been restricted from entering or leaving Tier-4 areas, while Tier-4 residents will not be allowed to stay overnight away from home. Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space. Though support bubbles for those at risk will remain in place, apart from other restrictions.

New Covid-19 virus variant

“Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, and the potential risk it poses, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned,” Johnson further announced.

“In England, those living in Tier-4 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,” he said.“Across the rest of the country, the Christmas rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only,” he added.

There will be no relaxation on New Years day, including December 31.

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