Crowds have flocked to shops based just a few miles out of Tier 4 areas as Christmas shoppers head out to buy last minute presents.
Pictures showed shoppers queuing and standing together in Horsham, West Sussex, which is under Tier 2 measures, but just four miles from Surrey, which was plunged into Tier 4 by Boris Johnson on Saturday.
Parking spaces were full at a Rushden Lakes Shopping Centre in Northamptonshire, which also remains in Tier 2, but was said to be just a ‘hair’s breadth,’ from Tier 3.
Draconian measures announced by the prime minister yesterday placed around 18million people in Tier 4, with government guidance telling them to stay at home.
Travel restrictions have been put in place to stop people spreading the virus in London and the south east – but pictures from neighbouring towns today appear to show some people are simply travelling away from harsher measures to go shopping elsewhere.
Scenes in Northamptonshire and Horsham are a far cry from Oxford Street and Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, where restrictions have left shops deserted.
Crowds were out shopping in Tier 2 Horsham, West Sussex, on the last Sunday before Christmas. Shops are allowed to stay open in the town, but just four miles away in Surrey, people are living under strict Tier 4 measures.
Draconian measures announced by the prime minister yesterday mean non-essential shops across London and the south east have been forced to shut
Government guidelines published yesterday state: ‘If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must stay at home’
Government guidelines published yesterday state: ‘If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must stay at home.
‘You must not leave your home to travel unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons.
‘If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.
‘You must stay at home and not leave your Tier 4 area, other than for legally permitted reasons.’
Despite the restrictions, and fears a new mutant strain of Covid-19 is up to 70% more transmissable than the first virus, shoppers continued to gather today.
Horsham and Northamptonshire (highlighted above) remain in Tier 2, but they’re just a short drive from Tier 4, where millions of people have been told to stay at home
Rushden Lakes Shopping Centre in Northamptonshire was packed with cars on Sunday as shoppers flocked to the Tier 2 outlet
Horsham remained busy today, but even with the last-minute rush for presents, there was a 26 per cent drop in footfall in London and the south east compared to last year
Shoppers were queuing outside shops in Northamptonshire, as the British Retail Consortium described the Government’s latest response to growing Covid cases as ‘deeply unhelpful’
The tightened rules have caused chaos for thousands of families across England, with frustrated Britons who have been forced to cancel their Christmas plans asking when the Covid-19 nightmare will end.
Wales also announced it is going into a full lockdown from midnight and will follow suit by slashing bubbles to a single day.
Even with the last-minute rush for presents, there was a 26 per cent drop in footfall in London and the south east compared to last year.
Overall, 44 per cent fewer Britons took to the country’s high streets than last year on the last Saturday before Christmas.
Restaurants and pubs are still open in West Sussex, but have been forced to shut across swathes of the south east
Up to £2 billion in sales may be lost per week by the new measures, it has been estimated
Shoppers were undeterred by talk of new Covid-19 strain, said to be 70 per cent more transmissible than the original virus
Experts predict the UK’s tills will ring with a staggering £2.5million-a-minute spent before December 22 as shoppers stack up on last-minute gifts.
But yesterday’s announcement came as a hammer blow to many businesses – particularly retailers hoping to pick up some pre-Christmas sales at the end of a torrid year in which they had faced repeated orders to close.
The Confederation of British Industry slammed the move as ‘a real kick in the teeth’, claiming many businesses ‘were counting on clawing back some lost ground’ over the Christmas shopping season.
Official figures also revealed 326 more people have died after testing positive for the virus – more than double the 144 deaths reported this time last week
The UK has reported a further 35,928 coronavirus cases today as the mutant Covid strain causes a 94.8 per cent rise in infections
Up to £2 billion in sales may be lost per week by the new measures, it has been estimated, with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that the Government’s ‘stop-start’ approach to regulations was ‘deeply unhelpful’.
Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said that the new variant of coronavirus sweeping London and the South East has spread to other parts of the UK, but while many regions had cases of the new strain, these were in much smaller numbers than in London, Kent and parts of Essex.
She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘It has been detected in many other parts of the country. Every region has cases but with very small numbers.
Dr Susan Hopkins, of Public Health England, said that the new variant of coronavirus sweeping London and the South East has spread to other parts of the UK
Studies are being carried to establish whether existing vaccines will be effective against the new Covid-19 variant – but shoppers were undeterred in Horsham this afternoon
Families headed out to buy their last Christmas presents, with less than a week to go until the big day
‘It has also been detected in Wales, in Scotland, we have not had any detected in Northern Ireland.’
Dr Hopkins said that until further studies are carried out there cannot be certainty the vaccine will be effective against the new Covid-19 variant.
She added: ‘We won’t know for definite until we have further studies.
‘The vaccine induces a strong, multiple response, immune response and therefore it is unlikely that this vaccine response is going to be completely gone.’