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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled Christmas for 17 million people in England – with London and the South East to be plunged into a new Tier 4 lockdown from midnight tonight.

Travel and different households mixing will be banned under the new highest level tier – with families elsewhere only allowed to form ‘Christmas bubbles’ on December 25 itself, the PM told the nation today.

The drastic move will dash families’ hopes of Christmas together after a torrid year and force millions of people to stay home for weeks to come.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has introduced a travel ban meaning Scots are not allowed to visit other parts of the UK.

The First Minister said 17 cases of the new mutant strain of COVID – which has prompted the dramatic nationwide shutdown – has been identified north of the border.

Wales will go into lockdown as well from midnight tonight while Northern Ireland will enter a six-week shutdown on Boxing Day.https://79dd5b8db7ff6254dd4a1a4d07dc9e29.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

In England, the Prime Minister has now told around 17 million Brits in Tier 4 they will not be able to see their families this Christmas thanks to the tough crackdown.

He warned the nation he could not ignore the terrifying new strain and vowed: “We have to act to protect the public.”

Johnson told the nation today: “As Prime Minister, it is my duty to take the difficult decisions, to do what is right to protect the people of this country.

“Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, and the potential risk it poses, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.

“I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me.”

He said people would be “disappointed” but vowed he was following the science as a result of the new rapidly-spreading strain.https://79dd5b8db7ff6254dd4a1a4d07dc9e29.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

He “bitterly regretted” cancelling the holidays for millions of people, he added.

And he added: “Yes, Christmas this year will be very different, but we must be realistic.

“We are sacrificing our chance to see loved ones this Christmas, so we have a better chance of protecting their lives so we can see them at future Christmases. ”

There were 27,000 positive cases recorded today, the latest stats showed.

The PM had insisted just five days ago that Christmas will still go ahead for families – and it would be “inhuman” to cancel it. — The Sun