Watch: Crowds flee the capital after tough Tier 4 restrictions announced in London
Extra police are being deployed to enforce travel rules at London’s stations after crowds of passengers crammed onto trains following Saturday’s Tier 4 announcement.
Astonishing images show hordes of people queuing to catch trains following the announcement of tougher coronavirus measures for the capital, while people also rushed to catch the Eurostar amid concerns the border could be closed.
In contrast, normally busy streets and shopping centres were left deserted on Sunday morning as the tighter restrictions began.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock condemned the busy scenes on Sunday, accusing people of being “totally irresponsible”.
Travel secretary Grant Shapps said extra police officers would be deployed to enforce travel rules at London’s stations and urged people to stick to government guidance not to leave Tier 4.
The scenes at several major train stations in London came after Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that millions of people in London and the South East of England would be put under Tier 4 restrictions.
The changes, which came into force at midnight on Saturday, mean households mixing over Christmas is banned, travel into or out of Tier 4 areas is only permitted for very limited reasons and overnight stays away from home are largely prohibited.
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The travel rush wasn’t limited to within the UK, with passengers rushing to board Eurostar trains amid fears France would ban UK travellers.
On Sunday morning Eurostar tickets sold out in less than an hour and huge queues were spotted at the station.
By Sunday evening, various countries had suspended travel from the UK in a bid to stop the spread of the new strain.
Asked about the chaotic scenes, Hancock said: “I think those scenes were totally irresponsible.
“We have all got a responsibility. We in Government of course have a responsibility, but so does every single person.
“The plea that I have is that people will play their part, because it is only by acting, all of us, that we can get this under control.”
In a statement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was “incredibly important” that people followed guidance, stayed at home and did not try to travel and said extra British Transport Police officers would be deployed to London stations.
He added: “If you are in Tier 4, the law means you must stay at home and you cannot stay overnight away from home. Across the rest of the country, you must stay local.
“Follow the guidance and please do not come to a station unless you are permitted to travel.”
Large queues were also spotted at supermarkets following the Tier 4 announcement, which means non-essential shops and retailers had to close from Sunday in areas including London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire.
In contrast, aerial footage shared by Sky News showed London’s streets deserted.
Images also showed empty streets in usually busy shopping areas like Regent Street as well as in shopping centres in Essex and Kent.
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