On Saturday Prime Minister Boris Johnson held an emergency conference addressing the nation following new concerns relating to a new strain of the virus
Due to this new strain apparently being more contagious and with rising cases the Prime Minister felt he had no other option, he had this to say. “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.” In addition to the business restrictions, it means those that fall into tier four namely London, most of the South East, the majority of Essex and Kent will not be able to meet with family over the Christmas period. Those in tiers two and three will only be able to meet on just Christmas day and only and between two households. Those in tier four will still be able to meet those in their support bubbles.
The new tier four, effectively lockdown by another name means amongst other things non-essential retail must remain closed, though click & collect can still operate. This comes on the back of Chancellor Rishi Sunak extending the furlough period to April. The government has stated they will reassess this in two weeks’ time, however rumblings from health secretary Matt Hancock and other ministers imply this situation will likely continue for some time.
*Breaking News: It has emerged that in light of the new strain of Coronavirus France has closed it’s ports for 48 hours for all freight hauliers. Transport secretary Grant Schapps said the disruption “was not a specific problem” in regards to medicine and food shortages in the short term. In addition he stated that the government’s aim was to “get this resolved as soon as possible”.
The statements come after France also announced a travel ban on passengers arriving from the UK, alongside countries including Denmark, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Turkey and Canada, over concerns about the prevalence of the new strain of Covid-19.
The Prime Minister will hold crisis talks with ministers this morning when he chairs a Government Cobra civil contingencies committee meeting.