Boris Johnson, decisions taken with a "heavy heart". | Efe


England, Scotland and Wales all face much tighter restrictions over Christmas, as fears about the transmission of the coronavirus variant grow.

In London, the south east and parts of eastern England, new tier four level restrictions are being introduced from midnight, meaning that people must stay at home with certain exceptions. The planned relaxation of Covid rules for Christmas has been scrapped for tier four areas. People will be unable to socialise with others outside their household or bubble, even on Christmas Day. For the rest of England, the rules allowing three households to meet will be reduced to Christmas Day only.

Boris Johnson said that "we cannot continue with Christmas as planned". The decisions had been taken with a "heavy heart", but "when the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defence".

Professor Chris Whitty said that it was important that people in tier four areas don’t travel so they don’t spread the variant to other parts of the UK.

In Scotland, the planned five-day relaxation of Covid restrictions over the festive period has been cut back to just Christmas Day for the whole of Scotland. Cross-border travel to other parts of the UK is to be banned over the Christmas period. The whole of Scotland will move to tier four from Boxing Day.

Wales is to go into lockdown from midnight, with all plans for the festive season cancelled except for Christmas Day.