A new variant of coronavirus which has caused a spike in COVID-19 infections has forced the UK to enforce a new stringent, stay-at-home lockdown.

Under the new lockdown rules, non-essential shops and businesses will be closed.

A new Tier 4 level has been added to the current three-tier lockdown system to control the infection rate. Reportedly, this is a new mutation of the deadly virus. 

In a blow to the residents of the UK, Jhonson announced that the planned five-day ‘Christmas bubble’ of relaxed rules stands cancelled.

“It is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned,” Johnson stated at a briefing from 10 Downing Street on Saturday evening.

“There`s no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness, equally there`s no evidence to suggest the vaccine will be any less effective against the new variant.” He added.

Although Johnson and his scientific advisors believe vaccines will still be effective, and the new strain is not more deadly or more serious in terms of the illness caused, he said on Saturday the government had to take urgent action.

The number of cases in England has soared in the last two weeks because of the virus variant.

Johnson tore up plans to allow three households to mix indoors for five days over the festive period, and said London and southeast England, which are currently in the highest level of a three-tier system of rules, would now be placed in a new Tier 4 level, similar to those of a recent national lockdown.

“It is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned,” Johnson told a news conference. “I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me.”

People in Tier 4 – 16.4 million and about a third of the population of England – will be required to stay at home except for essential reasons such as work, and non-essential retail will close, as will indoor leisure and entertainment.

Social mixing will be limited to meeting one other person in an outdoor space. 

Like other countries in Europe, Britain is battling to contain new waves of the virus. It reported 27,052 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, taking the total over 2 million, and 534 more deaths, taking the overall official toll to more than 67,000. There has been a surge in infections sparked by the new virus strain.

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