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    Plans to relax the Covid-19 rules for 5 days over the Christmas period have been scrapped for much of the South of the country and limited to Christmas Day in the rest of England as London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire are all plunged into a new Tier 4 from midnight.

    Those within Tier 4 can not mix with anyone outside of their household with stay at home orders issued except for those travelling to work or education. The restrictions will be reviewed on the 30th December.

    This follows from announcement made earlier in the week that suggests that a new strain of the Coronavirus which is more easily transmissible is spreading rapidly through the country.

    Prof Chris Whitty said that there had been a "dramatic increase" in the proportion of cases that come from the new variant in certain areas, blaming the new variant for the increase in hospitalisations in parts of the country - a 36% increase in eastern England, 34% in London, and 28% in south-eastern England.

    In the North West, North East, and Yorkshire, Witty says, there has been no increase in the hospitalisation rate - and that matches lower rates of the new variant.

    However, there is a very real chance that the Northwest will be plunged into Tier 4 should that change.

    In Yorkshire and the Humber, he says, the new variant amounts to just 5% of cases.

    The new variant seems to be more dominant in London but is increasingly starting to spread into other parts of the UK.

    Johnson said during the press conference that Christmas can not go ahead as planned, promising that things will be radically different by Easter.

    As the pandemic drags on, more people are starting to tire of what they are increasingly seeing as incompetent handling of the crisis by the government. 

    As another in a long line of beacons of hope, the prime minister announced 350,000 people had been vaccinated so far in the first two weeks of the programme and that in the coming weeks that number should increase six-fold, but even with an increase it will still take many months to inoculate those who are most at risk and there are valid concerns about the country having enough of the vaccine to go around.

    Speaking to those who will be affected by the new rules, Mr Johnson said that the government will do everything it can to look after jobs, businesses and livelihoods.



    "This is a race and we still are doing our absolute level best to protect the public whilst we know that the vaccine is arriving," he says.

    "I'm very, very confident... that we'll get that vaccine into a significant proportion of the population by the spring and that things will be radically different for our country by Easter."


    Meanwhile, the whole of Wales has announced it is going into lockdown from midnight.

    All of Wales will be placed into the highest level of lockdown - Level 4 - with all but essential shops closed, and people being told to "stay home" to save lives.

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