Britons with Christmas shopping to do today pointed to strong signs that Boris Johnson could force non-essential retailers in London and much of the Southeast to shut down as part of new Tier 4 measures.
The Prime Minister called an emergency press conference this afternoon after holding crisis talks with the Cabinet – with signs that parts of the home countries, including London, are moving to the new level of restrictions.
That brace will potentially include the closure of non-essential stores and travel restrictions, including a stay at home order for Christmas Day itself, despite Mr Johnson insisting a few days ago that five-day festive "bubbles" would take place.
The move would ruin the plans of millions who hadn't shopped for Christmas and planned to hit their local main streets.
The British used social media to express their frustration. They wrote: "Wtf is Tier 4, I have to do Christmas shopping".
Britons with Christmas shopping to do today pointed to strong signs that Boris Johnson could force non-essential retailers in London and much of the Southeast to shut down as part of new Tier 4 measures. Pictured: London's Oxford Street on Saturday
Another wrote, “Now what is Tier 4? All non-essential things close? Like things for everyone who hasn't finished Christmas shopping? & # 39;
A third said, "I have no idea what Tier 4 is and if it's legitimate, but that inspired me to do all of my Christmas shopping in the store today."
One concerned woman added, "Let me do the rest of my Christmas shopping because I don't know what this Tier 4 conversation is about."
A fifth disgruntled shopper wrote: "Boris shouldn't close the stores … I have to do my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve!"
The extraordinary U-turn would also cause anger among families who have already made plans, booked trips, and bought groceries for reunions.
Talks ensue between ministers on how to contain the mutant strain, which has so far been believed to be largely restricted to the southeast.
The Prime Minister spoke to the cabinet by phone shortly after 1 p.m., while Michael Gove had discussions with the decentralized administrations.
There was already speculation that England would have to follow Wales and Northern Ireland to announce draconian crackdown after Christmas.
The Welsh government split from the rest of the UK by cutting the Christmas bubbles from three to two households from December 23-27. It is believed that grade 1-3 bubbles are still allowed in England.
The British used social media to express their frustration. They wrote: "Wtf is Tier 4, I have to do Christmas shopping."
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer, confirmed this afternoon that the new variant is more contagious.
He said: & # 39; As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England genomic surveillance.
& # 39; With the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary model data and rapidly increasing incidence rates in the Southeast, the Advisory Group on New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats (NERVTAG) now believes the new strain can spread faster.
& # 39; We have alerted the World Health Organization and are continuing to analyze the available data to improve our understanding.
& # 39; There is currently no evidence that the new strain is causing a higher death rate or affecting vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is being done to confirm this.
"With this recent development, it is more important than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission."
His warning follows experiments from the Porton Down Wiltshire laboratory which found the new variant to be 50 percent more contagious than any previously identified strain.
Unaware of the bad news to come, countless British people flocked to the country's main streets and supermarkets to stock up on Christmas supplies and buy gifts.
The Prime Minister called an emergency press conference this afternoon after holding crisis talks with the Cabinet – with signs that parts of the home countries, including London, are moving to the new level of restrictions
Experts predict the UK registers will ring at a staggering £ 2.5m per minute to be spent before December 22nd, when shoppers focus on last minute gifts.
A source told the Daily Telegraph that Downing Street could restrict travel to and from the southeast, while other proposed measures could prohibit commuters from entering London.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been pushing for tighter restrictions all week, but high-level government sources insist there are currently no plans for a third national lockdown or a fourth tier – although proposals are believed to have been worked out.
The Prime Minister is believed to have been presented with "alarming" new evidence of the mutant strain's harmfulness last night, but an expert said today it could be weeks before it is known how harmful it could be.
Professor Sir Mark Walport – a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) – said last night there was a real possibility that this could have a "carry-over benefit".
xperts predict that UK registers will ring at a staggering £ 2.5m per minute to be spent before December 22nd when shoppers focus on last minute gifts
"What happens to viruses is they naturally mutate all the time and those that are likely to do well increase transmission," he told BBC2's Newsnight.
& # 39; We know this is a new variant seen in other countries, but it appears to be pretty widespread, suggesting that it has a carry-over advantage.
“Scientists are working very hard to find out what is going on. But it definitely seems possible that this could be carried over more easily.
"It will make social distancing even more critical."
It came after data was released yesterday that was used to justify inclusion of 38 million people in Tier 3, with the R number in the UK rising again above one.
A series of charts have been released by the Joint Biosecurity Center (JBC), the secret Whitehall organization tasked with assigning the Whack-a-Mole style locks after putting parts of the Southeast in the strictest brackets as part of the first shake -Up of the system since the end of the national shutdown.
They highlight the north-south divide that has formed since the country was excluded on December 2nd. London and the home countries are now bearing the brunt of the winter wave and epidemic in the northern tier 3 areas.
In the former hotspot regions of the North East and Yorkshire, a sea of green has emerged since the lifting of national intervention, representing shrinking eruptions. The infections are now concentrated in and around London and its commuter belt.
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