U.K. Locks Down Hard and Might Stay That Way Until Easter

A new coronavirus mutation that has recently emerged in the U.K. has sent the government into a panic. Many prominent officials are now recommending that lockdown measures in the U.K. not only continue but be increased—even through Christmas.

Tier 4 Lockdowns

For the month of December, nearly all of the U.K. has been placed under either Tier 2 or Tier 3 lockdown at the orders of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Tier 2 allows for churches, weddings, shops, gyms and other nonessential businesses and events to open and take place, but groups of more than six people are not allowed to congregate together outside. Most bars are also required to close, and people from different households are not allowed to come together indoors.

Tier 3 lockdowns recommend that everyone stay home and only travel when absolutely required to. Hospitality venues are required to close, but churches and many other businesses, like gyms and nail salons, can stay open. The rule prohibiting more than six people from gathering together also applies.

With the emergence of this new strain, however, lockdowns have shifted up all the way into Tier 4. For now, Tier 4 lockdowns will only apply to London and a few other areas, but they are expected to spread.

Tier 4 only allows people to leave home for work, food shopping, medical emergencies, exercise or meeting up with people from one’s household. All are encouraged to work from home if possible. Virtually all nonessential stores and businesses will be closed.

How Long Might It Go On?

Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific advisor to the British government, is one of the key voices recommending the harsh lockdown policy. He has said that the new strains of the virus are currently localized to certain parts of the country but could easily spread everywhere shortly.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and others appear to agree with him and do not rule out the possibility of enforcing Tier 4 lockdowns on the entire U.K.

No one has thus far been able to concretely say how long the lockdowns might remain in force, but Vallance suggests that they may go on until Easter.