Within minutes of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing an effective lockdown on over 16 million people in England, shoppers hit the streets for a final attempt to stock up on Christmas presents and supplies.
At a large department store at Westfield shopping centre in West London, one of Europe’s largest, one sales assistant said it was pretty quiet, before “suddenly there was this mass of people.”
Johnson on Saturday (December 19) reversed plans to ease curbs over Christmas, saying Britain was dealing with a new coronavirus strain up to 70% more transmissible than the original. He said London and southeast England, which are currently in the highest level of a three-tier system of rules, would now be placed in a new Tier 4 level, similar to those of a recent national lockdown.
People in Tier 4 – 16.4 million and about a third of the population of England – will be required to stay at home except for essential reasons such as work, and non-essential retail will close, as will indoor leisure and entertainment.
Social mixing will be limited to meeting one other person in an outdoor space. The new rules will come into effect from midnight on Saturday.