Covid-19: Londoners who fled Tier 4 city told to reduce contacts for 10 days

20 December 2020, 13:02 | Updated: 20 December 2020, 14:26

By Kate Buck

Londoners who fled the city last night before Tier 4 measures came into force have been urged to not have contact with anyone outside their household for 10 days.

Boris Johnson last night announced stringent new measures for London and the South East, plunging millions into confinement just days before Christmas.

But despite Professor Christ Whitty's plea for them to "unpack their bags", thousands flocked to train stations to flee the capital before the measures came into force from today.

On Sunday, the first day of the measures, Paddington Station seemed quiet as many of those in the city seemed to obey the stay at home message.

But Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said she hoped those who made that decision would cut down their contacts after arriving at their destination.

"I understand people's wish to get home to their families and loved ones that they may live with on a normal day-to-day basis and wanted to get out of London last night," she said.

Read more: Sadiq Khan's plea to Londoners in Tier 4: 'Stay in London, follow the rules'

Londoners have been urged to cut their social contacts for at least 10 days
Londoners have been urged to cut their social contacts for at least 10 days. Picture: PA

"I hope that when they go to wherever they are moving to they reduce their social contacts and don't contact anyone outside their household for the next 10 days, as that will help minimise the risk of transmission to other parts of the country.

"We know it's in other parts of the country in small amounts but what we are trying to do is prevent more spread and rapid increases across the rest of the country."

Speaking on Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Dr Hopkins also said the new strain of Covid-19 which is spreading widely has been detected in other areas, albeit in. much smaller numbers than in London, Kent and parts of Essex.

She added: "It has been detected in many other parts of the country. Every region has cases but with very small numbers.

"It has also been detected in Wales, in Scotland, we have not had any detected in Northern Ireland."

Her comments come after Mr Johnson effectively cancelled Christmas for almost 18 million people in London, south-eastern and eastern England as the region was put into a new two-week lockdown from Sunday.

Scientists on the Government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) have concluded the VUI 202012/01 mutant strain, identified by the Public Health England laboratories at Porton Down, is spreading more quickly.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier told LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday the November lockdown "did not work", and refused to give a date for when the Tier 4 measures would be repealed.

Pressed by Tom Swarbrick on how long the measures will be here for, Mr Hancock 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.

Read more: Sir Keir Starmer: Boris Johnson 'chose to ignore' Covid-19 alarm bells

“We know that the November lockdown did not work against this new variant, because the cases carried on rising in Kent.”

The new variant, which is now dominant in London, is up to 70 percent more transmissible than the previous strain.