LONDON – Tough new coronavirus restrictions have started in the UK with Scotland and Northern Ireland as part of tougher measures to try to stop a new variant of the virus that is believed to spread faster.
Relaxed Christmas Day measures in Wales have also been reimposed.
The number of people on the country’s highest level of restrictions – Level 4 – rose by 6 million on Saturday to 24 million, or around 43% of Britain’s population. No mix of indoor households is allowed and only essential trips are allowed. Gyms, swimming pools, hairdressers and shops selling non-essentials have been ordered to close.
Another 570 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 70,195. More than 32,700 new cases of the disease were reported on Christmas Day.
In her annual Christmas address, Queen Elizabeth II, who spent much of the year in seclusion at Windsor Castle with her husband, Prince Philip, delivered a heartfelt message of hope praising “the indomitable spirit ”of those who“ magnificently ”met the challenges. of the pandemic.
The Queen’s speech was even more moving given the great sadness and upheaval many families have experienced in the UK, which has the second highest death toll in Europe behind Italy.