London has gone into an emergency lockdown as the country fights a wave of COVID-19 infections from a new fast-spreading strain.
The move overturns previous plans from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ease restrictions for the holidays.
“When the virus changes its method of attack we must change our method of defense,” Johnson said at a news conference Saturday.
“Without action the evidence suggests infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives.”
According to Bloomberg, the new strains seems to be unique to the U.K. and “can spread significantly more quickly than previous strains in circulation and is behind a huge surge in infections in recent days.”
“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said.
“Given this latest development it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”
The new restrictions require all non-essential shops to close and it also requires 31 percent of the country’s population to stay home until the rules are revisited on Dec 30.
Residents are also discouraged from traveling and mixing with other households.