A new, more contagious COVID-19 strain has forced millions of Britons to scrap their Christmas plans just days before the much-anticipated holiday as the "mutant" version of the virus has led the government to put parts of the country, including London, on lockdown.
Hundreds of flights have been cancelled as countries in the EU and beyond have imposed travel bans to and from the UK since the mutation was discovered the weekend before the Christmas holiday.
The weekend also witnessed thousands of Londoners forming huge queues at train stations, as people tried to flee the English capital before midnight ahead of the strictest Tier 4 restrictions, announced by the government due to the new strain.
Previously there were plans to allow cross-tier travel for household mixing for a period of up to five days during the Christmas festivities, but Tier 4 indefinitely prohibits non-essential travel out of the area as well as household mixing, including throughout the holiday season.
Aside from "stealing" Christmas, the new strain of the coronavirus, which is believed to transmit up to 70 percent faster than the original coronavirus, has prompted France to shut its borders to UK lorry traffic in a bid to curb the spread of the mutated virus, thus causing chaos at a number of ports, with “miles of lorry queues” spotted in Kent.
While the EU is working to set up protocols to resume travel with the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has assured the public that the disruption at key ports, such as Dover, won't affect the vast majority of food and medical supplies.