New travel bans for London and the south-east are reportedly being considered by Downing Street to stop the spread of a new ‘highly contagious’ mutant strain of coronavirus, potentially disrupting Christmas plans for millions of families.
It is understood that Boris Johnson held emergency talks with ministers last night (December 18) discussing options to contain the new variant which has led to Covid-19 rates surging across the capital.
Reports suggest London and Kent could effectively be cut off from the rest of the UK over the Christmas period, with a travel ban in place on travel to and from south east England.
This comes as scientists have warned that the new strain of the virus is 50% more contagious than any previously detected.
This led to the unscheduled talks on Friday amid the ‘growing concern’ about the threat posed by the mutant strain, which Matt Hancock revealed had been identified last week.
The new travel advice could be announced as early as today, reports suggest.
The Telegraph is reporting that ministers are considering “cutting off” the area from the rest of the UK, with possible bans between zones where the “highly contagious” coronavirus variant is high and elsewhere.
A government source told The Sun: ‘What we do not know yet is whether the new strain is more or less likely to cause you harm, but what we have learnt is that it will pass from person to person much more easily and that is what we are really worried about.’
With fears that the relaxing of the restrictions over Christmas could lead to a further upward spike, Mr Johnson on Friday refused to rule out the possibility of a third national lockdown for England in the new year.