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Nice Britain orders stricter Covid lockdown in London – "We can’t proceed Christmas as deliberate"

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Christmas gatherings cannot take place and non-essential stores will have to close in London and much of southern England as he has placed new, higher levels of coronavirus restrictions on the region to help curb rapidly spreading infections .

Johnson said on Saturday that the capital and other areas of southern England currently under Tier 3, the highest level of coronavirus restrictions, will be moving to an even more stringent new Tier 4, where after the end non-essential business, Hairdressers and indoor leisure facilities must be closed Saturday business hours.

Johnson also said a planned five-day easing of socialization rules that would allow up to three households to meet in "Christmas bubbles" will be canceled for Tier 4 areas. Mixing of households is allowed outdoors in public places only under very limited conditions.

He said people in the rest of England are only allowed to meet in Christmas bubbles for one day, instead of December 23-27 as originally planned.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I have to tell you that we cannot continue Christmas as planned," said Johnson.

He said he had come to the conclusion that "I have no alternative" and that people must sacrifice this Christmas in order to have a better chance of protecting the lives of their loved ones.

"I know how much emotion people put into this time of year and how important it is for grandparents to see their grandchildren," said Johnson. "But if the virus changes its method of attack, we have to change our method of defense."

When announcing the new Tier 4 category, which reflects many of the restrictions on public activity that were in place during the UK nationwide lockdown earlier this year, Johnson cited the rising rates of infection in much of southern England.

England's chief medical officer said Saturday that based on preliminary model data, a state virus advisory group believes a new strain of the virus identified this week is spreading faster.

"We said during this pandemic that we must all be guided by science. If science changes, we have to change our response," he said.

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Steven Gregory