Asked if he could rule out another national lockdown after Christmas, Boris Johnson said being able to “grip this virus now” was needed to “stop it running out of control in January”.
“Obviously we face very considerable new pressures, particularly from the new variant and the speed with which that’s been that’s been spreading,” the Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference.
“We believe that we’re going to have to get through this tough period now with, as I say, as I have said many times, very tough restrictions, with tough tiering.”
– Thousands of lorry drivers to spend Christmas stranded at border
Thousands of lorry drivers will spend Christmas Day stranded at the border with the English Channel with some likely to have spent five nights in their vehicles and many expected to be stuck there until Boxing Day.
A spokesman said that departure numbers would “rise significantly”, though they could not provide figures for today.
Some 2,367 of an estimated 6,000 drivers had returned negative coronavirus tests by this afternoon, while three tested positive, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Mr Shapps said the border at Dover, the Eurotunnel and Calais would remain open “throughout Christmas” to get hauliers cleared “as soon as possible”, with the help of 10,000 more tests brought by 26 French firemen drafted in on Thursday.
Traffic is moving more quickly at the Eurotunnel, where more than 1,000 vehicles left on Wednesday night, according to the Road Haulage Association, with around 2,000 more expected to depart by the end of Thursday.