On 19 December 2020, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new Tier 4 restrictions for the greater London area and parts of southeastern England in an effort to stop the rapid spread of a mutated strain of coronavirus. Tier 4 restrictions, which came into effect on 20 December and will last until at least 30 December, require residents in those areas to stay at home except for work, education, or other essential purposes, and ban gatherings of people from separate households in private homes. Individuals are strongly encouraged not to travel into or out of areas under Tier 4 restrictions. Additionally, nonessential businesses, including gyms, hair salons and entertainment venues, will be required to close. Further guidance provided by the U.K. government is available here.

The Welsh government raised its the COVID-19 alert to the highest degree, Level 4, placing the nation under a lockdown as of 19 December. Residents are required to stay in their homes except for essential purposes, such as traveling to work or school, or to procure basic necessities, including food and medicine. Most nonessential businesses are required to shut down, although retails shops are allowed to operate takeout and curbside services. Details regarding restrictions currently in place in Wales can be viewed here.

Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that restrictions under “COVID protection level 4,” the highest and most strict echelon, will go into effect in all of mainland Scotland for at least three weeks as of 26 December. During the time period, residents will be required to stay in their homes, with exemptions for those traveling for essential reasons. Nonessential businesses, including bars, cafes and restaurants, will be required to shut down, although eateries may offer takeout and delivery services. A ban on travel between Scotland and the rest of the U.K. will be in place during the holiday season, although travel within Scotland will be allowed on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and other island communities — where restrictions were recently relaxed — will remain under “COVID protection level 3.” Details regarding restrictions imposed under COVID protection level 4 are available here.

As previously reported in Hot Spots, Northern Ireland is set to be under a lockdown for six weeks from 26 December until at least 6 February 2021. Further details regarding restrictions that will be in place during the lockdown can be viewed here.