Tougher COVID-19 rules for wider area in UK

Britain has expanded the area where tougher restrictions apply as a new highly contagious coronavirus strain is spreading.

Scheduled relaxing of restrictions around Christmas had to be withdrawn. A different new variant from South Africa was also identified in the country.

Parts of southeast England, including the capital, London, have been subject to the toughest restrictions since last Sunday.

And on Saturday, the area where people are told to stay at home was expanded.

Similar restrictions are in place for parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Usually retailers lure shoppers with large-scale sales on Boxing Day, a day after Christmas, but non-essential goods shops are closed this year.

The streets of London looked deserted.

Recently, daily new cases were close to 40,000 on some days and the number of patients in hospital is close to the figure at the peak recorded in the spring.