It was not so long ago when the country was full of optimism with Christmas bubbles, vaccine joy and falling case numbers.
But that is now all starting to feel like a distant memory after a string of coronavirus announcements made today.
The feel-good factor is well and truly over after the Government revealed tough new restrictions less than a week before Christmas.
Those in Tier 4 – covering much of the South East and London – will effectively go back into lockdown tonight but even for those in Tiers 1 to 3 – including Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire – our Christmas plans are being severely curtailed.
New measures are being introduced from Sunday because the virus is spreading fast in parts of the South East.
Experts now believe the R rate has risen above 1 across England – meaning it is spreading once more.
It is made worse by a new strain which is far more infectious than anything seen before.
At a press conference today, Boris Johnson said the new strain is 70 per cent more infectious.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said urgent work was being carried out to find out if the new strain was more deadly – but there is currently no indication it is, HullLive reports.
What are the Christmas rules for Tier 3?
In Tier 1, 2 and 3, Christmas bubbles will now be one day – on Christmas Day itself – and not five days as previously announced.
People will still be permitted to meet members of two other households indoors.
Mr Johnson had previously pledged that these bubbles would be in place between December 23 and 27 but he has come under mounting pressure in the last few days.
Those planning to travel south to meet loved ones in Tier 4 areas can no longer do so.
And if you were looking forward to loved ones coming up from those areas now in Tier 4, sadly this cannot happen. No one in this tier can leave their area.
What are the Tier 3 restrictions generally?
Here is a reminder of the restrictions we are currently in which most of us should be used to by now.
- Pubs and restaurants cannot open except for takeaways and click and collect.
- Indoor entertainment venues – such as cinemas, theatres, bowling alleys and casinos – remain closed.
- Groups of six can only meet in outdoor public spaces, such as parks and sports courts – but not in private gardens.
- People should avoid travelling out of the area other than where necessary and to reduce the number of journeys.
- No overnight stays are permitted outside the local area, except for work or education, with accommodation to stay closed.
- Weddings and civil partnerships are allowed but with only 15 guests, increasing to 30 for funerals. Wedding receptions are banned in Tier 3.
- Places of worship are open but people must not interact with anyone outside their household or support bubble.
What are the new restrictions for those in Tier 4?
For the 15 million or so people, generally in the south of England, who find themselves in Tier 4, they will largely be in lockdown.
This means pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and entertainment venues are legally obliged to close. Weddings are also banned.
It is also not permitted for people in Tier 4 to leave their area.
In terms of Christmas, the rules are equally brutal.
Festive bubbles are no longer allowed. This means that everyone will have to stay home over the festive period, in order to prevent the virus spreading.
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Should I travel?
If you live in the Tier 4 areas of London or the South East then no.
Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said anyone packing a bag to leave the South East, should “unpack it now”.
The new rules do not permit people to leave Tier 4.
Across the rest of the country, the government has not brought in a ban on travelling between other tiers. But the advice remains to think carefully before potentially exposing loved ones to the virus.