When did Boris Johnson announce the Christmas lockdown 2020?

21 December 2021, 07:46

Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

What day did Boris Johnson announce the Christmas rules last year? Find out exactly what happened in 2020...

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While we thought we might get a ‘normal’ Christmas this year, a new strain of Covid has put a stop to millions of festive plans.

The government recently introduced ‘Plan B’ measures - including mandatory face masks and Covid passports - but have warned they may have to go further.

In fact, Boris Johnson warned on Monday that he won’t be ruling out another lockdown in the coming days if the coronavirus numbers continue to rise.

Boris Johnson addressed the nation on December 20 last year
Boris Johnson addressed the nation on December 20 last year. Picture: Getty Images

But with many people planning on spending December 25 with their loved ones, there is a lot of speculation over when the Prime Minister will introduce new social distancing measures.

While there has been no word on tighter restrictions coming in before Christmas Day, last year people in England saw their get togethers cancelled at the last minute.

So, when did Boris Johnson impose a Christmas lockdown in 2020? Here’s what happened last year…

When did Boris Johnson announce the Christmas lockdown 2020?

The festive plans of millions of people were cancelled on Saturday 20 December last year after Mr Johnson addressed the nation in a pre-recorded message.

Businesses were closed across England last Christmas
Businesses were closed across England last Christmas. Picture: Alamy

The whole country had just come out of a four week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown through November and December.

A new mutation of coronavirus was discovered in Kent in November called ‘alpha’ and was thought to be 70 per cent more transmissible than the original variant.

Despite the ‘Tier system’ being brought in, people of England were promised five days off of social distancing restrictions across the festive period so they could see their family and mix in different households again.

But on Friday 18 December, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NervTag) called a meeting with ministers and said more action was needed to stop the spread.

After tougher restrictions were signed off by the Cabinet the following morning. Mr Johnson announced the news from 10 Downing Street.

People were no longer allowed to mix in England last Christmas
People were no longer allowed to mix in England last Christmas. Picture: Alamy

He said with a ‘very heavy heart’ that he was getting rid of the government’s planned five-day break from rules and would be introducing a tough new ‘Tier 4’ for a lot of the country.

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

“In England, those living in tier 4 areas should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place, for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation.”

This included huge swathes of England, including most of the South East including Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Surrey.

People were told to 'stay home' last Christmas
People were told to 'stay home' last Christmas. Picture: Alamy

Other places included Essex, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Havant, Rother and Hastings.

Across the rest of the country, the Christmas rules allowed up to three households to meet on Christmas Day only, rather than the five days as previously set out.

Mr Johnson added: “So I know how disappointing this will be. But we have said throughout this pandemic that we must and we will be guided by the science. When the science changes, we must change our response.

“And when the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defence.”