British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned England against breaking the country’s latest coronavirus restrictions or risk facing a new nationwide New Year lockdown.
Praising those who had kept to the rules throughout the November lockdown, Mr Johnson said they had prevented the healthcare system from becoming “overwhelmed”.
But urging against complacency, Mr Johnson warned that if the new rules, which are based on a three-tiered system, were not observed, there could be another nationwide lockdown in January.
“If we ease off now, we risk losing control over this virus all over again, casting aside our hard-won gains and forcing us back into a new year national lockdown with all the damage that would mean,” Mr Johnson said.
“I know this will bring a great deal of heartache and frustration, especially for our vital hospitality sector.
“I really wish it were otherwise, but if we are going to keep schools open, as we must, then our options in bearing down on the disease are necessarily limited.”
Mr Johnson’s comments come after the English and Scottish governments outlined lockdown restrictions for residents during the upcoming festive season.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlined which areas in England will have the toughest local lockdown rules when the country comes out of nationwide quarantine and reverts to its tier system on December 2.
Mr Hancock said some cities in northern England and the Midlands, including Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester, would face the toughest restrictions, known as tier three, while London would be in tier two.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said restrictions would be eased over the Christmas period from December 23-27 to allow residents to travel throughout Britain to meet friends and family.
The British nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – agreed earlier this week to relax restrictions during the Christmas period so people can see their families.
Some of the other rules for December 23-27 include Britons being allowed to meet with two other households but only in a private homes, places of worship or public outdoor spaces.