'Absurd' traffic brings London to a standstill as locals flee ahead of lockdown

4 November 2020, 20:47 | Updated: 5 November 2020, 11:08

Traffic came to a standstill in Chiswick, west London
Traffic came to a standstill in Chiswick, west London. Picture: @ashadc1

By Megan White

London was brought to a standstill on Wednesday evening, with locals making last minute journeys on gridlocked roads ahead of a second national lockdown.

Dozens of motorists took to social media to report the "awful" conditions, with one woman claiming it took her 3 hours to travel 15 miles.

Traffic maps showed long delays in much of the city, with main thoroughfares such as the A3 in south London and A4 in west London looking to be congested.

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One driver said traffic in south London was "the worst I have ever, ever seen, in three decades," with another saying it was "like the world was ending."

It is thought many people were attempting to leave the city ahead of the circuit break lockdown, which begins at 00:01 on Thursday.

People will be told stay at home and pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops will close.

The lockdown will run from November 5 until December 2, after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new restrictions.

Amid the chaos, one west London resident asked: "Traffic in Putney is crazy. Like bumper to bumper on all the main roads. Are people leaving London for lockdown?"

Another said: "A 25 minute journey home from Westfield took 1hr 40 mins today due to all the mad traffic, temporary traffic lights and road closures galore... It's chaos everywhere."

Boris Johnson has sought to reassure people the measures will be eased on December 2 as planned, and should enable shops and businesses to reopen in time for the run-up to Christmas.

But the Prime Minister acknowledged that it would depend on getting the R number - the reproduction rate of the virus - back down below 1.

The Government has published 32 pages of regulations including exceptions to the general stay-at-home message.

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Specific reasons include education if it is not provided online, work if you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people's homes) and for exercise, which you can take as many times a day as you wish.

People can also leave for recreational purposes with their own household or on their own with one person from another household (a "one plus one" rule).

Examples of recreation include meeting up with a friend in the park for a walk or to sit on a bench and eat a sandwich. People will not be allowed to meet in homes and gardens, and golf clubs will remain shut.