Sunday, December 20, 2020

Millions forced to cancel Christmas as 'new variant' of coronavirus spreads in U.K.

"We have alerted the World Health Organization and are continuing to analyze the available data," the chief medical officer for England said.

People at London Bridge Underground station in London earlier this week.Henry Nicholls / Reuters

Isobel van Hagen
NBC News

LONDON — Millions of people in London and the U.K.'s southeast will be forced to cancel their Christmas plans after scientists said Saturday that a new coronavirus variant was spreading more quickly.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a news conference that the toughest set of coronavirus restrictions — known as "Tier 4" — will be put in place from Sunday, putting regions under the strictest lockdown rules.

As a result, nonessential shops, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys will be forced to close for two weeks, while people will be restricted to meeting one other person from another household in an outdoor public space.

A "bubble" policy — allowing up to three households to meet over the holiday period in parts of the country that are not under Tier 4 restrictions — will be severely curtailed and will only apply on Christmas Day, Johnson said.  Read more >>