Kent, London and the south east, will be placed in new tier four restriction from midnight tonight (Saturday).
The changes will broadly be the same as the most recent national restrictions meaning all non-essential shops will close and people should remain at home.
No Christmas bubbles – that is more than one household getting together – will be permitted.
People are also not permitted to enter or leave tier four areas.
If you live in a tier four area, you must follow the rules below from Sunday, December 20.
This means that you cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble.
Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household. These rules will not be relaxed for Christmas.
The government announced the changes as a new variant of COVID-19 is becoming prevalent in the county, spreading more quickly than previous strains.
Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “This is devastating news for the county, for our local economy and for the families that have made Christmas plans that are now in ruins.
“We will do everything in our power to support the county and our residents through this.
“The government has taken this decision to counteract a new and faster variant of the virus which has played a big part in the rapid rise in infections in Kent, London and the south east.
“We will continue to push forward with our local testing and tracing programme, asymptomatic testing and constant engagement with our residents to ensure we are all able to abide by the regulations and get infections down.
“I know the huge difficulties and sacrifices this announcement will cause, but the science is unfortunately very clear. Each one of us must again continue to protect each other’s health from this devastating virus.
“Kent County Council will do everything we can to support local businesses, many of which have already suffered and will have to now remain closed until these new restrictions are lifted.
“We believe, and will be arguing strongly to government, that business support in tier four areas must be strengthened and enhanced to protect livelihoods.
“Christmas is a time when families and friends come together and this year many will find themselves alone and struggling. The Kent Together helpline remains open for all those requiring help and support during this time.”
Any Kent resident who requires support with accessing food, or who has any other urgent needs, can call 03000 41 92 92 or visit www.kent.gov.uk/kenttogether 24 hours a day.
For more details on tier four restrictions, click here.