Londoners fleeing locked-down capital risk arrest

Trains fully booked ahead of midnight deadline as government says lockdown could last for months.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

London police
London police
Flash 90

Just last week, at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson attacked opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, accusing him of secretly wanting to impose far more stringent coronavirus regulations. “I wish he had the guts to say what he really wants to do – to cancel the plans people have made” for the non-Jewish holiday season, Johnson said. “We don’t want to criminalize people’s long-made plans.”

Three days later, that was exactly what Johnson himself was doing – canceling the long-made plans of almost 18 million people in the south and southeast of England, including the capital. A mutation of the coronavirus allegedly 70% more contagious than the previous predominant strain was named as the culprit, causing hospital admissions in the affected areas to surge by over 700 per day.

“Without action, the evidence suggests that infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives,” Johnson said at a press conference on Saturday. “We, of course, bitterly regret the changes that are necessary but when the facts change, you have to change your approach. The briefing that I had yesterday about this mutation of the virus and particularly about the speed of transmission was not possible to ignore. When the virus changes its method of attack, we as a country have to change our method of defense.”

In an effort to contain the mutant strain in the affected regions, people living in Tier 4 areas are being ordered to stay home and those outside the areas are advised not to enter them. Travel within Tier 4 regions is only permitted for education, childcare, and work that cannot be done from home. No more than two people from different households may meet, and only in an outdoor setting. Almost all non-essential businesses must close.

The new regulations have led to a scramble to leave Tier 4 zones before the restrictions took force at midnight, with railway stations packed and train bookings unobtainable. Meanwhile, the government started issuing warnings that police would be deployed to crack down on non-essential travel and make arrests if necessary.

With ministers suggesting that the new restrictions may remain in force for months, however, many will be those ready to risk arrest rather than remain in house arrest.