Millions face new U.K. coronavirus restrictions as border chaos eases over new virus variant


LONDON >> Hundreds of thousands of individuals within the U.Okay. confronted robust new coronavirus restrictions at present, with Scotland and Northern Eire demanding tighter measures to attempt to halt a brand new variant of the virus that’s believed to unfold extra rapidly.

Northern Eire went right into a six-week lockdown and in Wales, restrictions that have been relaxed for Christmas Day have been additionally re-imposed.

The variety of folks beneath England’s prime degree of restrictions — Tier 4 — elevated by 6 million on Saturday to 24 million folks total, round 43% of England’s inhabitants. The area included London and plenty of of its surrounding areas.

No indoor mixing of households is allowed, and solely important journey permitted. Gyms, swimming pools, hairdressers and shops promoting nonessential items have been ordered to shut and pubs and eating places can solely do takeout. Enterprise teams say the restrictions might be economically devastating to their members.

One other 570 day by day deaths from COVID-19 have been reported, bringing Britain’s complete demise toll to 70,195, the second-worst demise toll in Europe after Italy. Britain additionally reported greater than 32,700 new circumstances of the illness on Christmas Day.

Fears concerning the U.Okay.’s new variant have sparked every week of border chaos. Round 1,000 British troopers spent Christmas Day attempting to clear an enormous backlog of vehicles stranded in southeast England after France briefly closed its border to the U.Okay. and demanded coronavirus checks from all drivers.

However Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated Saturday that greater than 15,000 drivers had been examined and that the backlog at a testing web site at Manston Airport was cleared by Sunday morning. Solely 36 optimistic checks had been reported, he stated on Twitter.

“An enormous THANK YOU to everybody who’s labored tirelessly over the previous few days to scale back the large disruption attributable to the sudden French border closure,” Shapps tweeted.

The primary circumstances of the U.Okay.’s new variant have now been detected in France and Spain. A French man dwelling in England arrived in France on Dec. 19 and examined optimistic for the brand new variant Friday, the French public well being company stated. He has no signs and is isolating at his house within the central metropolis of Excursions.

In the meantime, well being authorities within the Madrid area stated they’d confirmed the U.Okay. variant in 4 folks, all of whom are in good well being. Regional well being chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero stated the brand new pressure had arrived when an contaminated individual flew into Madrid’s airport.

In her annual Christmas deal with, Queen Elizabeth II, who has spent a lot of the yr isolating at Windsor Citadel along with her husband Prince Philip, delivered a heartfelt message of hope praising the “indomitable spirit” of those that have risen “magnificently” to the challenges of the pandemic.

The 94-year-old queen and her 99-year-old husband Prince Philip have been setting an instance by not visiting family as traditional over Christmas.


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