Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is expected to announce a further tightening of the coronavirus restrictions – introducing a new, Tier 4 for London and the South East.
Reports suggest that a ‘stay at home’ message will be introduced for affected areas this afternoon. The prime minister is set to announce the changes to the planned Christmas easing of Covid-19 rules at a 4pm press conference.
There is also expected to be a tightening of the ‘household bubbles’ plan, the BBC said, with fears growing about a new variant of the virus that has sent cases spiralling across London and the South East.
Johnson assembled ministers for an emergency meeting on Friday night, amid “growing concern” about the threat posed by a new “mutant strain” of Covid-19 that could be accelerating the spread of the disease.
The variant is believed to be more infectious – and could trigger new restrictions as soon as Saturday, with a travel ban between the south-east, including London, and the rest of the country mooted, reports suggest.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, expressed his concern about the new strain earlier this week, as he placed a large portion of the south-east under the toughest, tier 3 level of coronavirus restrictions.
It is believed that ministers have since been presented with stark new evidence about the new strain. “There are concerns that it is more transmissible than the existing strain – and that sense is hardening,” one government source told the Guardian.
More to follow.