British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a desperate move to curb a rapidly spreading new coronavirus strain, imposed a new, higher level of coronavirus restrictions on London and much of southeast England. Johnson also said that Christmas gatherings can't go ahead and non-essential shops must stay closed in London and southern England.
British Prime Minister added 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, which requires non-essential shops and indoor leisure venues to be closed after the end of business hours on Saturday.
Johnson, after emergency talks on the virus mutation with his top officials, cancelled his plan to ease pandemic rules for five days during Christmas.
Johnson added that a planned five-day easing of socialisation restrictions, which allowed up to three households to meet in Christmas bubbles, will be cancelled for Tier 4 areas. He added that no mixing of households will be allowed except for under very limited conditions outside in public places.
Household mixing will also be banned in London and the south-east of England. Even socialising will be restricted to just Christmas Day across the rest of England.
The new top tier of pandemic curbs will come in effect for the hot-spot regions around the capital from Sunday, with millions of people ordered to stay at home.
According to government officials, COVID-19 case rates have nearly doubled in London over the past week, with almost 60 per cent of infections attributed to the new strain of the virus.
Existing Tier 3 measures in the country - currently, the toughest rules in place - have failed to stop the spread. This had led the British Prime Minister to introduce Tier 4 infection controls.