London streets deserted as Tier 4 sees shops shut & thousands fleeing capital

LONDON’S streets are deserted after stifling Tier 4 restrictions saw shops bolt their doors and thousands flee the capital.

London's streets are normally packed the week before Christmas, but the harsh Tier 4 lockdown imposed at the weekend left the capital eerily empty today.

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Pictures of a barren Piccadilly Circus showed a lone Londoner looking up atpicture of the Queen next to quotes from her Sunday broadcast to the UK and the Commonwealth.

And the usually teeming South Bank centre was left deserted this morning as dank and drizzly weather took hold of the capital. 

Last week shopping areas and streets across the city were thronging with last minute Christmas shoppers. 

But Boris Johnson’s latest restrictions have emptied the capital – with Londoners either staying at home or fleeing the south east and the latest drastic measures. 

On Saturday, the government cancelled Christmas for nearly 20 million Brits living in London and the south east in a desperate attempt to stop Covid transmissions.

Fears over the virus compounded by the new strain – which is feared to be 70 per cent more infectious.

The latest lockdown rules came only weeks after a national lockdown was lifted on December 2. 

New Tier 4 rules mean the non-essential retail shops, gyms hairdressers and nail salons must all shut. 

And Brits living in the highest risk area were barred from visiting other households on Christmas day – or from leaving the Tier 4 zone. 

Boris announced the latest rules at 4pm on Saturday.  

Shops had just a few hours’ notice they would be closing as the rules kicked in at midnight on Saturday. 

And the city's stations were said to be like "war zones" on Saturday evening as locals skipped town before the tough new Tier 4 lockdown came into effect at midnight – despite the stay at home order.

In St Pancras station hundreds of people were filmed rushing towards barriers to board the trains leaving the capital.

Similar frantic scenes were pictured at Paddington station and King's Cross.

Traffic on the A40 leaving London was jammed in the hours after Mr Johnson's bombshell announcement.

Commmuter Harriet Clugston, who filmed the scenes at St Pancras, compared it to Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War when people were desperate to flee before the Viet Cong invaded.

She tweeted: "Last train out of Saigon. Queue at St Pancras as we wait to board the Leeds-bound train."

“As expected, train is crammed," she later wrote.

Now, just four days before Christmas, London is deserted. 

St Pauls’ Cathedral stood empty in the rain and the West End was also silent as shows were once again forced to close their curtains.

Businesses depending on a last gasp of Christmas shopping after a punishing year of lockdowns are still reeling.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) called Tier 4 "hugely regrettable".

And Westminster City Council leader Rachael Robathan said the move left businesses “staring into the abyss after having had a last gasp at pre-Christmas sales snatched from them”.

The move has also sparked havoc among international travel after France imposed a 48-hour block on travel – and other European countries barred British travellers due to fears over the latest strain. 

But the government has insisted the Tier 4 move was necessary.

Matt Hancock maintained the new coronavirus strain was "out of control" and needed tougher measures to stop the spread.

The Health Secretary warned London and the South East could be trapped in Tier 4 for MONTHS until the vaccine takes hold.

Mr Hancock admitted it was an “awful end to an incredibly difficult year.”

He added: “Everybody has been really looking forward to (Christmas) after all the sacrifices that have been made but unfortunately this virus, the new strain, was out of control.”

But the minister insisted the government needed to act after being presented with the scientific evidence over the new, more contagious strain.

He told all Brits living in Tier 4 areas to act as if they had the virus to try to minimise the spread.

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