Families were last night fleeing areas of England that have been plunged into the tightest restrictions in what one leading expert described as a ‘mini exodus’
Families were last night fleeing areas of England that have been plunged into the tightest restrictions in what one leading expert described as a ‘mini exodus’.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said that within 90 minutes of Boris Johnson’s bombshell announcement, there were reports of people jumping into cars and taxis and even hiring vehicles to escape London before draconian new rules were imposed at midnight.
‘There are certainly elements of an exodus of some people from tier 4,’ he told The Mail on Sunday.
‘I have heard of people actually hiring cars to get out of London to get to Liverpool because a lot of the trains are either restricted or booked.
‘We have even heard of taxi drivers taking people longer distances – people calling minicab offices and saying, ‘I need to get to Nottingham’.
‘It is almost like a wall is coming down around London and the South East and some people are scrambling to get away to save their Christmas before midnight.’ Last night footage emerged of a large crowd queuing on a packed platform at London’s St Pancras Station to board the last train to Leeds before restrictions were introduced at midnight.
An announcement warned passengers that it would not be possible to maintain social distancing on the train.
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People wait on the concourse at Paddington Station in London on Saturday as people scramble to get out of London before Tier 4 rules come into power at midnight
People go through barriers to catch trains at Paddington Station in London. The introduction of the new tier seeks to curb a new more infectious strain of the virus, Boris Johnson explained during a press briefing on Saturday
Branding it the ‘last train out of Saigon’ – a reference to the evacuation of US personnel during the Vietnam War – journalist Harriet Clugston wrote: ‘Every person on this train including myself has made what is probably a very silly and irresponsible decision to travel albeit within the law.
‘But that’s what people were always going to do to be together at Christmas.’
Travel into and out of the new tier 4 zone, which includes London and https://bit.ly/3gsrEDW large swathes of the South East of England, has been banned in a desperate bid to contain a mutant strain of the coronavirus.
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International travel for the 16.4 million people who live in tier 4 is also prohibited unless it is for work purposes, while Mr Johnson urged families in the rest of the country to ‘carefully consider’ whether they needed to go abroad.
The Prime Minister’s announcement shattered the plans of millions of families who were set to embark on the traditional Christmas getaway in the coming days to see friends and family.
Last year around 17 million people hit Britain’s roads between December 22 and 28, but Mr King believes that number will now plummet to around two million.
Poppy Wood, 25, rushed to King’s Cross station last night to board a 7.30pm train before the tier 4 restrictions were imposed.
She said: ‘What a disaster. I’m so angry at the Government – the whole thing has been shockingly handled.’
Miss Wood, who was travelling to her parents’ home in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, with her brother and her boyfriend, said the station was ‘surprisingly socially distanced but very sombre’.
‘Everyone is just looking up at the screens quite longingly,’ she added.
‘It’s not panicked at all – it’s very calm. I think the threat has become very real and people are actually quite nervous, which hasn’t been the case for a while in London.
Pictured: Grabs from the Trainline app showing train tickets leaving London either sold out or limited for Sunday
By 7pm on Saturday evening, there were no trains available online from several London stations including Paddington, Kings Cross and Euston (pictured)
Traffic seen on London’s A40 ahead of new coronavirus ‘Tier 4’ restrictions being imposed from midnight
Cars on the M4 motorway leaving London, following the announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, that London will move into Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions from midnight on Saturday