'Unfortunately this is man versus virus, we don’t control this thing' - Transport Secretary Grant Shapps
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told us this morning that he is 'gutted and devastated' about the new Christmas restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson put London and most of the South East into Tier 4 on Saturday, and cancelled the relaxing of guidelines during the Christmas period.
Now, a growing list of European countries are banning travel from the UK as a mutant variant of Covid-19 spreads across parts of the south-east of England.
Mr Shapps said while it was heartbreaking to have cancelled Christmas, it was necessary because of the sharp rise in Covid cases: "It's pretty sad to be cancelling Christmas, obviously, it's something we do with a heavy heavy heart, but when the facts change, and that's what this new variant of the virus has done, we have to respond, because it is much more easily transmitted.
Charlotte Hawkins asked how they could dash hopes at the last minute, saying families up and down the country were devastated to hear the news at the weekend, and there was anger at the way the situation had been handled.
Mr Shapps said: "I can absolutely share that frustration, I am gutted I can't see my family, I haven't seen some of my family the whole year, and I share your viewers' frustration. Unfortunately, this is man versus virus, and we don't control this variation of it.
"There have been thousands of mutations of this virus, but this particular one, we now know transmits up to 70% more easily."
Charlotte told him: "The thing is, even before you realised it was this new variant that was to blame, you know Tier 3 restrictions weren't working in Kent. Why didn't we see action taken sooner to try to prevent this from spreading across the country?"
Mr Shapps replied: "We didn't have the data, we didn't have the facts, scientists came to us on Friday and said we have done more work on this and we have fully sequenced the genome. That's something this country has done more of for coronavirus than any other country in the world, in fact we are approaching half of all the sequencing of the coronavirus has been done in the UK."