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London's streets deserted as capital plunged into Tier 4 restrictions
21 December 2020, 11:03 | Updated: 21 December 2020, 11:19
London’s famous landmarks and shopping streets were left deserted after the capital was plunged into the strictest Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions days before Christmas.
Eerie images show an empty Oxford Street and Regent Street, both of which would usually be crammed with people doing their Christmas shopping, but coronavirus rules caused empty streets this year.
Photos also show an abandoned Millennium Bridge on Monday morning while others capture usually busy transport hubs and Tube stations devoid of crowds after the drastic restrictions came into force.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that London and the South East would enter new Tier 4 restrictions, closing all non-essential retail and banning people from meeting friends and family indoors over the festive season, as the UK grapples with a new highly infectious strain of Covid-19.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned over the weekend that the variant, now dominant in the capital, is "out of control" after as it was revealed it is up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the previous strain.
Mr Johnson said early analysis showed the new strain could increase the reproductive rate by 0.4 or more, making it very difficult to reduce cases.
Speaking on LBC’s Swarbrick on Sunday, Mr Hancock said the “November lockdown did not work” against it and implied Tier 4 measures may be here for a long time.
He told LBC: “The legal review is every two weeks, but I think we do need to be absolutely straightforward that the actions needed to control this new variant are really serious.
“We know that the November lockdown did not work against this new variant, because the cases carried on rising in Kent.”
Although the new variant is spreading faster, and therefore harder to control, there is currently no suggestion that it is more deadly or causes more severe symptoms.
Meanwhile Mr Johnson will hold crisis talks with ministers after France banned lorries carrying freight from the UK and countries around the world ended flights amid fears over the new strain.
The Prime Minister will chair a meeting of the Government's Cobra civil contingencies committee on Monday amid warnings of "significant disruption" around the Channel ports in Kent.
Countries including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, and Bulgaria have announced restrictions on UK travel.
With France suspending all traffic from the UK for 48 hours, it raised fears that trade flows could be severely disrupted while passengers across Europe could be left stranded in the final run-up to Christmas.
It comes as the UK saw its largest-ever daily rise in coronavirus cases on Sunday after 35,928 people test positive while a further 326 deaths were recorded.
The number of fatalities was more than double the 144 declared on the same day the previous week and brings Britain's tally since the pandemic began to 67,401.