Footage of the last few trains out of London has surfaced this evening after Boris Johnson announced new ‘tier 4’ restrictions for the capital.
Despite reassuring the British public that the festive “bubble” plan would go ahead – and claiming it would be “inhuman” to cancel Christmas – the prime minister has done just that, announcing the creation of a stricter set of ‘tier 4’ rules.
Only households outside tier 4 will now be able to mix for Christmas in England – and those households will only be able to do so for Christmas Day, with long-distance travel discouraged.
The new rules come into effect at midnight, and are essentially a repeat of the four-week lockdown in November – meaning non-essential retail, leisure venues and services like hairdressers will not be allowed to open.
“We cannot continue with Christmas as planned,” Johnson said at a hastily-convened Downing Street press conference on Saturday evening.
The spread of the virus throughout the south was now “being driven by the new variant of the virus,” the prime minister said. “It may be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the old variant,” he added.
Scientists on the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NervTag) concluded that the mutant strain identified by Public Health England – known as VUI2020/01 – was spreading more quickly.
Harriet Clugston shared footage of St Pancras station, with crowds congregating around the gates.
Posting on Twitter, she said: “As expected, train is crammed. Announcement on tannoy says social distancing “will not be possible” due to volume and to get off if you are not comfortable with that.
“To make matters worse, we’ve been told this train will be taken out of service at Derby. We will all get off and board a new train, no doubt mixing the virus amongst ourselves as we reorganise with new seat partners.”
Here’s the latest scenes:
Last train out of Saigon. Queue at St Pancras as we wait to board the Leeds bound train. pic.twitter.com/cFDBDNnYFC— Harriet Clugston (@HarrietClugston) December 19, 2020