Ghost town Britain: Commuting city workers shun the office
Ghost town Britain: Commuting city workers shun the office as new lockdown is announced but some Tube and train carriages are still busy with builders and cafe workers who can’t work from home
- Tube and train carriages were used this morning as third lockdown loomed
- Work from home directive comes into force officially on Wednesday
- But builders and cafe staff have to still go in to carry on their permitted jobs
- And traffic data from UK cities show congestion same level as Monday
Office staff largely worked from home today as Britain’s third national lockdown began to clamp shut, but tradesmen, key workers and essential businesses continued to travel in to their jobs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last night the restrictions, which will come in tomorrow, would allow the virus to be contained and the NHS protected.
His call to arms was largely obeyed by city staff who stayed away from travel, but people including builders and cafe workers still journeyed to their work as permitted under the new rules.
It meant while huge empty business blocks created a ghost town atmosphere across the country, some travel routes appeared relatively busy.
And traffic data showed very little movement from yesterday, despite Mr Johnson’s dramatic speech last night.
It came despite big business including Amazon, Goldman Sachs and the London Stock Exchange to stay home unless they were essential staff.
National Portrait Gallery in London the morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech
Empty streets in Manchester on the first day after the new COVID-19 lockdown was announced
The Plymouth city centre was completely absent of shoppers after the PM’s announcement
The quiet streets of Nottingham this morning as England goes into another full lockdown
New Street train station in Birmingham at 8.47am the morning today after the PM’s address
Vehicles on the M4 at Langley in Berkshire the morning showed travel was still going on
A London underground tube train looked relatively busy in rush hour despite home work plea
This platform in West Ham looked crowded during the trip into work on Tuesday morning
Staff at the world-famous London Stock Exchange were mostly working at home, with just a small key team allowed into offices.
It was the same with other big firms, including Standard Chartered, with those who can work at home doing so.
Goldman Sachs staff in Europe, the Middle East and Africa were all told last night by memo only key members should come in.
It said: ‘In the UK, until further notice, we will continue with our in-office essential approach announced in December.
‘Across the broader EMEA region, the challenges are similar with new local lockdowns continuing into January in many countries.
‘This will necessitate ongoing caution and flexibility from all of us.’
Certain workers including tradespeople and cafe staff are allowed to carry on going to work
The M4 motorway near Maidenhead after the sun rose showed fewer cars on the roads
Streets across Bristol appear empty as England prepares to enter the third national lockdown
Rush hour traffic in London, Newcastle, Bristol and Birmingham showed no drop from Monday
The new lockdown in England at a glance
- All primary and secondary schools will close with immediate effect
- Classes will remain only for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers.
- The plan is for them to reopen after the February half-term break.
- A-Level and GCSE exams are unlikely to go ahead as planned in the summer.
- Universities will also remain closed to students until mid-February.
- Nurseries will remain fully open.
- The public should stay at home unless they need to leave for one of just five reasons: If they cannot work from home, shopping for necessities, exercise, to give care and for medical treatment or emergencies.
- All non-essential retailers, hospitality and ‘personal care’ like hairdressers must close.
- Restaurants and other eateries can continue to operate for takeaways and deliveries.
- But pubs will no longer be allowed to offer take-away alcohol sales.
- Children’s playgrounds will remain open.
- All indoor and outdoor sports venues, including golf courses, gyms, swimming pools and tennis courts must close, and team sports cannot take place, even outdoors.
- Elite sports like the Premier League can go on under their own schemes.
The guidance is for people who are fit and well.
There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and households with a possible or confirmed coronavirus infection.
They should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. The guidance says you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.
The rules for all people in England also state:
- You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).
- You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
- You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.
- Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
Amazon have also told staff across the world as long as they can do their jobs from home they are welcome to do so until June 30.
The Prime Minister plunged England into a national lockdown described by some as more brutal than last March on Monday in a desperate bid to keep the mutant coronavirus at bay while vaccines are rolled out.
Just a day after he urged parents to send their children back, the PM declared in a sombre address from No10 that primary and secondary schools will be shut from today until at least February half-term, with only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers allowed to go in.
University students are being told to stay at home and study remotely, while exams will not go ahead as planned. Nurseries can stay open.
Under the the new guidance, published overnight, non-essential retail, all hospitality, gyms and swimming pools will be ordered to close across the country.
Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway – but in a tightening from the draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve any alcohol.
Vulnerable people are being told to shield where possible. Communal worship can continue with social distancing in place.
The public will once again only be allowed to leave home for one of five reasons.
They are to go to work if essential, shop for necessities, exercise – allowed with one other person from another household, care for someone, or to seek medical help.
Those who break the rules face a £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
The extraordinary third national squeeze will come into effect in the early hours of Wednesday after the regulations are laid today, but Mr Johnson urged the public to adopt the new rules now.
MPs will get a vote on them on Wednesday when Parliament is recalled, although there is no prospect of them being defeated.
With his hands clasped together and seated behind a desk in Downing Street, Mr Johnson made clear there is no chance of them being lifted for at least seven weeks – and possibly longer if the vaccine rollout does not go well.
‘Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any time since the start of the pandemic.
‘It’s clear we need to do more.. while our vaccines are rolled out,’ he said.
He said it would not be ‘possible or fair’ for exams to go ahead this summer as normal.
‘The weeks ahead will be the hardest but I really do believe that we are reaching the end of the struggle,’ he said.
The PM pledged that by mid-February the top four categories on the vaccine distribution list will have had their first jabs.
There are 13.2million people in the top four groups on the vaccination list – care home residents and the over-80s, frontline healthcare workers, the over-70s and the clinically vulnerable.
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