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Extra police deployed amid scenes of travel chaos and empty streets following Tier 4 news

Ellen Manning
·4-min read

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.

These shocking images show St Pancras train station packed with masked passengers desperate to get home for Christmas before Tier 4 restrictions hit London. See SWNS story SWOCtrain. Masked passengers can be seen clutching suitcases as they stand shoulder to shoulder with other ticket holders, rendering social distancing impossible. The shocking sight was filmed around three hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that London and areas in South East England would be entering Tier 4 yesterday afternoon [December 19]. With restrictions hitting the capital city at midnight last night, hundreds rushed to train stations in a desperate attempt to get home for Christmas.
Images showed St Pancras train station packed with masked passengers desperate to get home for Christmas before Tier 4 restrictions started in London. (SWNS)
These shocking images show St Pancras train station packed with masked passengers desperate to get home for Christmas before Tier 4 restrictions hit London. See SWNS story SWOCtrain. Masked passengers can be seen clutching suitcases as they stand shoulder to shoulder with other ticket holders, rendering social distancing impossible. The shocking sight was filmed around three hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that London and areas in South East England would be entering Tier 4 yesterday afternoon [December 19]. With restrictions hitting the capital city at midnight last night, hundreds rushed to train stations in a desperate attempt to get home for Christmas.
Matt Hancock branded the scenes "irresponsible". (SWNS)

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.

Read more: New COVID variant has already spread to other parts of the UK, expert warns

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.

Watch: Passengers head to St Pancras in a bid to spend Xmas at home

Police officers at Euston Station, London, with more being deployed to enforce travel rules at London's stations, and the public being urged to adhere to Government guidance after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that from Sunday areas in the South East currently in Tier 3 will be moved into a new Tier 4 for two weeks Ð effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November, after scientists warned of the rapid spread of the new variant coronavirus.
Extra British Transport Police officers are being deployed to train stations following Tier 4 announcements. (PA)

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.”

SOUTHEND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20: People start to queue at Tesco supermarket as Essex goes into tier 4 on December 20, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. As from today all non essential shops and retailers will close in areas including London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire. People in tier four can now not mix indoors with anyone not from their household. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
Large queues were spotted outside supermarkets as London and large areas of the South East were put under Tier 4 restrictions. (Picture: John Keeble/Getty Images)

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.”

Usually-busy shopping centres like Bluewater in Kent were also left empty after the new tighter restrictions came into force on Sunday. (PA)
Usually-busy shopping centres like Bluewater in Kent were also left empty after the new tighter restrictions came into force on Sunday. (PA)
Busy shopping streets like Regent Street were left deserted following Saturday's announcement. (PA)
Busy shopping streets like Regent Street were left deserted following Saturday's announcement. (PA)

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.

Watch: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?