“We cannot continue with Christmas as planned”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the country on Saturday evening, as he announced new rules on the formation of temporary Christmas bubbles.
Under previously planned rules, three household would have been able to meet indoors from 23 to 27 December.
Now, households will only be able to meet for 24 hours on Christmas Day.
Travel guidelines have also been updated, with people in Coventry advised to not travel outside of the city nor abroad, though this is advisory.
Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, told people forming Christmas bubbles to “keep it short, keep it local”.
The news comes as London and much of its surrounding counties head into a new level of stricter local restrictions, known as Tier 4.
Coventry remains under Tier 3 local restrictions.
Under Tier 4, all non-essential retail must close and Christmas bubbles will not be allowed to form – essentially the equivalent of the November national restrictions.
The “spread is being driven by the new variant of the virus”, Boris Johnson said, referring to a new strain of COVID-19 that has been detected in the UK which is thought to spread more quickly, though there is “no evidence it causes more severe illness of higher mortality”.
The new strain is thought to have spread nationwide already, but be far more prevalent in London and the South East.
100 daily cases and three deaths in Coventry were reported on 19 December; 20 patients were admitted to University Hospital Coventry on 15 December.
Most recent data suggests cases are most prevalent in the outer suburbs of Coventry but “relatively stable”.
The implementation of the new rules will not require a parliamentary vote, and will be effective as of midnight on Saturday.