AP

UK nixes Christmas gatherings, shuts London shops over virus

Dec 19, 2020, 12:02 PM
UK nixes Christmas gatherings, shuts London shops over virus...
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference in response to the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, inside 10 Downing Street, London, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. Johnson says Christmas gatherings can’t go ahead and non-essential shops must close in London and much of southern England as he imposed a new, higher level of coronavirus restrictions to curb rapidly spreading infections. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)
(Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Families must cancel their Christmas gatherings and most shops have to close in London and much of southern England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday as he imposed a new, stricter level of coronavirus restrictions on the region to curb rapidly spreading infections.

Johnson said Saturday that the capital and other areas in southern England currently under Tier 3, the highest level of coronavirus restrictions, will move to an even stricter new Tier 4 that requires all non-essential shops, hairdressers and indoor leisure venues to close after the end of business hours Saturday.

With just five days to go until Christmas, Johnson also announced that a planned easing of socializing rules that would have allowed up to three households to meet in “Christmas bubbles” from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27 , will be canceled for Tier 4 areas and sharply curtailed in the rest of England.

Households No mixing of households will be allowed in Tier 4 except under very limited conditions outside in public places. In the rest of England, people will be allowed to meet in Christmas bubbles for just one day instead of five, as the government originally planned.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot proceed with Christmas as planned,” Johnson said.

He said he concluded there was “no alternative open to me” and people must sacrifice this Christmas to have a better chance of protecting the lives of loved ones.

“I know how much emotion people invest in this time of year, and how important it is for grandparents to see their grandchildren,” Johnson said. “But when the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense.”

A fast-moving new variant of the coronavirus that is more than 70% more transmissible than existing strains appears to be driving the rapid spread in London and southern England, Johnson said. London now has the highest infection rates in England.

“There’s no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness,” he stressed, or that vaccines will be less effective against it.

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said the U.K. has alerted the World Health Organization that the new variant identified this week appears to be accelerating the spread of COVID-19. The government’s scientific advisers came to that conclusion based on preliminary modelling figures, and they are continuing to analyze the available data, he said.

Viruses mutate regularly, and scientists have found thousands different of mutations among samples of the virus causing COVID-19. But many of these changes have no effect on how easily the virus spreads or how severe symptoms are.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, told reporters after receiving notification from England this week that the U.N. health agency had “no evidence this variant behaves differently” and that it was similar to a variant initially reported among mink in Europe. She said scientists would study the virus strain to see if there might be any difference in how it prompts an immune response in people.

Wales and Northern Ireland, which have their own devolved governments and independent rules for controlling the virus, have already announced fresh lockdowns once Christmas is over.

U.K. officials reported another 28,507 confirmed cases on Friday, and 489 deaths of people within 28 days of testing positive for the virus. The U.K. has Europe’s second-highest COVID-19 death toll behind Italy, standing at 66,541 as of Saturday.

___
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

george santos is pictured amongst other lawmakers, he and romney have been exchanging harsh words...
Samantha Herrera

GOP on GOP: Romney scolds Santos, ‘You don’t belong here’

Santos' presence at the center aisle to see and be seen with the arrivals was met with a stern rebuke from a fellow Republican, Sen. Mitt Romney.
23 hours ago
A woman sits on the rubble as emergency rescue teams search for people under the remains of destroy...
MEHMET GUZEL, GHAITH ALSAYED and SUZAN FRASER

Race to find survivors as earthquake aid pours into Turkey, Syria

The death toll has risen to above 5,300. Monday's quake and strong aftershocks hit hundreds of kilometers across southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria.
2 days ago
quit their jobs...
PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

US added a strong 517,000 jobs in January despite Fed hikes

The Fed is aiming to achieve a "soft landing" — a pullback in the economy that is enough to tame high inflation without triggering recession.
6 days ago
Thousands of fraudulent nursing diplomas  were dispersed in Florida. (Canva)...
Associated Press via Miami Herald

Fake nursing diploma scheme in Florida; 25 arrested

The defendants each face up to 20 years in prison.
7 days ago
Microsoft is cutting 10,000 workers, almost 5% of its workforce, in response to "macroeconomic cond...
MATT O'BRIEN, Associated Press

Job cuts in tech sector spread, Microsoft lays off 10,000

Microsoft said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that had just notified employees of the layoffs, some of which begin immediately.
22 days ago
exxon mobil sign pictured...
SETH BORENSTEIN and CATHY BUSSEWITZ Associated Press

Study: Exxon Mobil accurately predicted warming since 1970s

Exxon said its understanding of climate change evolved over the years and that critics are misunderstanding its earlier research.
28 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
UK nixes Christmas gatherings, shuts London shops over virus