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Covid-19: Millions in England and Wales go into toughest restrictions
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Covid-19: Millions in England and Wales go into toughest restrictions

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A stringent new Covid lockdown has come into force in London, parts of east and south-east England, and Wales.

 

Some 21 million people who entered new restrictions at midnight are being told to stay at home, while non-essential
shops and businesses have to close.

 

A new tier four has been introduced in south-east England, after a new variant of coronavirus caused cases to soar.

 

The planned relaxation of rules for Christmas has been scrapped for those in England's new tier of restrictions.

 

In the rest of England, Scotland and Wales relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day only.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tough rules were needed after scientists said the new virus variant was spreading
more rapidly.

 

The tier four restrictions - similar to England's second national lockdown - applies to all areas in the South East which
were in tier three, covering Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant,
Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.

 

It also applies in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the East of England (Bedford, Central Bedford,
Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

 

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

 

The changes for England, announced at a Downing Street briefing on Saturday, will last for two weeks with the first
review due on 30 December.

 

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford brought forward a lockdown, saying hundreds of people had already contracted
the new, "more aggressive" strain of the virus there.

 

In Scotland, Covid restrictions will only be relaxed on Christmas Day, with mainland Scotland being placed under
the tightest restrictions from Boxing Day.

 

A ban on travel to the rest of the UK will also apply over the festive period.

 

In Northern Ireland, no changes have been made to Christmas restrictions, with three households allowed to meet from
23 to 27 December. The country is set to enter a six-week lockdown from 26 December.

 

The World Health Organization has said it is in "close contact" with UK officials over the emergence of the new variant
of coronavirus.

 

 

The Dutch government announced it was banning passenger flights between the Netherlands and the UK from 05:00
GMT Sunday, until 1 January at the latest, because of the new variant.


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