Coronavirus: Despite lockdown, London Tube and buses still crowded
Londoners seem to be paying no heed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to stay home amid the rising coronavirus cases in the UK. On Tuesday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged commuters to avoid rush hour “to save lives”.
Despite the unprecedented lockdown announced in the UK on Monday evening due to the rising coronavirus death toll, London Underground trains are still reported to be busy on Tuesday morning. This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson had ordered people to leave their homes only for "very limited purposes". Among the restrictions he announced was that of travelling to and from work where "absolutely necessary".
He said while no Prime Minister wants to make such demands on the population, the situation was such that he was forced to clamp down on people's movement and crackdown on any gatherings of more than two people.
"From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.
"You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say 'No'. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home. You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine -- and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can," Johnson said.
But clearly, Londoners didn’t take his warnings seriously. The death toll in the UK is 335 and confirmed cases stand at 6,700.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday blamed commuters for flouting a ban on “all non-essential travel” and said they must avoid rush hour “to save lives” as trains in the capital were still packed.
@10DowningStreet @SadiqKhan @TfL @BBCBreaking @BBCNews @BBCBreakfast still overcrowding at London tube stations this morning while #nhsworkers are trying to get to work. We need ID inspections at the stations This was central line this morning pic.twitter.com/zSIqRf2Kxz— Ken MacArthur (@ken_macarthur) March 24, 2020
Travellers in the capital could not stick to social distancing on their Tube journey to work on Tuesday morning, hours after the Prime Minister warned all but essential workers to stay at home.
Many people were nose-to-nose with people on the Tube, trains and buses as well as platforms despite being told to be two metres apart to avoid catching coronavirus, which has claimed 335 lives so far, the Daily Mail reported.
Mayor Khan demanded that employers enable their staff to work from home "unless it's absolutely necessary", adding: "Ignoring these rules means more lives lost. Some of the people on the Tube yesterday and today are not essential workers, I can tell you that".
But there is ongoing confusion caused by Johnson's long list of key workers -- with many packed on to trains appearing to be labourers legitimately heading to building sites in London after housing secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted last night: 'If you are working on site, you can continue to do so.'
The Mayor of London said: “My message is don't use public transport unless you really really have to go to work, you work in the NHS, you work in food supply, you work for the police - if you really have to go to work, don't use rush hour, it's really important.”
Sharing a horrifying picture of a packed Tube train, NHS sonographer Nicola Smith tweeted: "This is my tube this morning. I live in zone 4 and work in a zone 1 hospital. I love my job, but now I'm risking my health just on the journey in?! @SadiqKhan put the tube service back to normal so we can all spread out, or @BorisJohnson start policing who's getting on. Help me!'.
After completing her journey to the Imperial College NHS Trust in west London, she said: "I worry for my health more on my commute than actually being in the hospital."
Some passengers have said a reduced service means trains are busier.
Transport Secretary Gant Shapps said plans were in place to ensure key workers travelling on trains had "space to be safe". Shapps tweeted: "Concerning to see images of packed trains this a.m. The advice is clear: Stay home if possible. That is the way to save lives.
"We are working with train operators to introduce a small number of trains for key workers to have space to be safe."
Aslef union's district organiser Finn Brennan tweeted: "Still heavy loading on some Tube lines this morning making social distancing impossible. "This is endangering the health of the vital workers who have to use the system."
Brennan called on the government to act, adding: "I'm being sent pictures of crush loaded platforms at some Jubilee line platforms this morning. "Drivers and other frontline staff are furious."
This is the present situation, despite the Prime Minister warning that the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak is much faster in the capital compared to the rest of the country.