Rush-hour traffic remained high across England today as the new national lockdown began – with levels more than three times greater than during the first lockdown in March, following extraordinary gridlock last night.
Congestion in London today was at 38 per cent from 7am-8am and 56 per cent at 8am-9am, with data from location technology firm TomTom also revealing there were 536 jams across 255 miles of roads in the capital.
On the first day of the first lockdown – March 24 – congestion was at 15 per cent at 7am and 16 per cent at 8am, meaning it was 3.5 times greater at the start of the second lockdown at 8am this morning.
However it is still well down on normal levels before the coronavirus pandemic took hold of Britain, with congestion on March 5, a normal Thursday before lockdown, at 57 per cent at 7am and 70 per cent at 8am. And motorways in other parts of the country such as the M5 between Worcester and Cheltenham looked eerily quiet.
Morning congestion today was significantly up from the roughly 28 per cent observed across both times last week, although much of that will have been thanks to the lack of a school run due to the half-term holidays.
But 7am-8am traffic today was down from levels recorded earlier this week of 43 per cent on Monday, 52 per cent on Tuesday and 47 per cent yesterday – and down from a 52 per cent average at the same time last year.
The congestion level is the extra travel time drivers experience on average compared to baseline uncongested conditions – so a 38 per cent level means a 30-minute trip will take 38 per cent more time than with no traffic.
While cafes remained open for takeaway, big business branded the second lockdown ‘very déjà vu’ as they told staff to work from home – and wear masks everywhere except their desks if they had to go in. JP Morgan, Price Waterhouse-Cooper, Goldman Sachs and the London Stock Exchange said employees were operating remotely.
Heavy commuter traffic battles through thick fog this morning on the A40 at Perivale in West London, heading into the capital
Crowds of commuters at London Bridge Underground station on the Jubilee line platform during rush hour this morning
Congestion on March 5, a normal Thursday before lockdown, was 57 per cent at 7am and 70 per cent at 8am. On the first day of the first lockdown – March 24 – it was at 15 or 16 per cent. Today it was at 38 per cent at 7am and 56 per cent at 8am
Commuters sit close to each other while others stand on a Jubilee line train in London today as the new lockdown begins
Congestion in London was at 38 per cent between 7am and 8am this morning, according to location technology firm TomTom
It comes after astonishing traffic was seen yesterday, with queues at levels normally seen in the days before Christmas. There were 1,100 miles of jams in London alone at 6pm and the M25 was brought to a near-standstill.
Congestion was worse than normal in 16 out of 24 cities and towns – and, as drivers reported colossal tailbacks, the RAC said breakdown reports were up 15 per cent compared to normal.
The RAC, which said the increased breakdowns were ‘a sign that the roads are much, much busier’, added that the spike yesterday was caused by families heading for pre-lockdown shopping trips and leisure outings.
The rush to stock up saw huge queues outside shops and beer being sold for just 99p a pint before it goes off. Shoppers filled their trolleys before four weeks of having to stay at home and make only essential journeys.
Roads in other parts of England were quiet, including the M5 motorway between Worcester and Cheltenham at 8.45am today
Commuters at Canning Town Underground station in East London this morning on the first day of the second lockdown
Commuters travel on the Jubilee line in London this morning on the first day of the second national lockdown for England
Today, pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops in England have once again been forced to close and members of the public were ordered to stay at home for the next four weeks in a bid to reverse the spread of Covid-19.
It comes amid reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to confirm this morning that the 80 per cent furlough scheme will continue for businesses that have been shut due to restrictions beyond this lockdown period.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has been warned by a group of northern Conservative MPs that they do not want their constituencies ‘locked into lockdown’ indefinitely, as dissent appears to be growing within the party.
Jake Berry, chairman of the Northern Research Group of Tory backbenchers, has called for more clarity from Boris Johnson for a roadmap out of the measures for a second time in little more than a week.
People standing on an escalator and walking down steps at London Bridge train station during rush hour this morning
Traffic on the M60 heading into Manchester this morning as the second national lockdown comes into force
Traffic on the M25 around Greater London this morning as congestion levels remain high in the capital despite the lockdown
Traffic shortly before 8am on The Highway in East London today at the start of a four week national lockdown for England
Commuters at London Waterloo train station at 8.13am today during the morning rush hour at the start of the new lockdown
Commuters at Leeds train station at 8.31am this morning at the start of a four week national lockdown for England
Traffic on the M25 this morning as people continue to commute to work despite the second national lockdown beginning
Commuters at London Waterloo station at 8.10am in the morning rush hour at the start of a four-week national lockdown
Last evening, MPs voted by 516 to 38 – a Government majority of 478 – for the new rules, which are due to expire on December 2. But 32 Tory MPs defied the whips to vote against, with two more acting as tellers for the noes.
The new restrictions were then cleared through Parliament after they were approved by the House of Lords.
The lockdown comes with a number of exceptions, including pupils continuing to go to school, limitless outdoor exercise and ‘safe visiting’ for care home residents and their families.
Under new Government guidelines, care home visitors will be encouraged to meet their loved ones through a window or in an outside setting, following concerns about the emotional damage to residents and their families.
Customers enter the bakery and coffee shop Ole & Steen on High Street Kensington in West London this morning
A customer walks into a Pret coffee shop inside the High Street Kensington shopping arcade in West London today
Leon is open for customers this morning in Kensington, West London, although they are not allowed to sit inside
Belgian chocolate company Leonidas is open for takeaway only in the High Street Kensington shopping arcade this morning
A customer leaves the Oree patisserie branch on High Street Kensington in West London this morning
But the guidance, which was issued less than 12 hours before new lockdown measures came into force, was criticised and dismissed as ‘warm words’ by care experts.
Also from today, all students and teachers in secondary schools and colleges in England will be required to wear face coverings when moving around the premises.
People in Wales will be able to return to pubs and restaurants and schools are set to reopen when the nation’s two-and-a-half week ‘firebreak’ ends next week.
A regional tiered approach to restrictions is in force across Scotland, while in Northern Ireland, pubs and restaurants are still shuttered after being closed for four weeks starting on October 16.
Bosses despair over lockdown ‘déjà vu’ as Goldman Sach tells office staff to wear masks at all times unless at desks while KPMG enforces 100% WFH order from today
Lockdown 2 hit hard today as big business branded it ‘very déjà vu’ as they told staff to work from home – and wear masks everywhere except their desks if they had to go in.
JP Morgan, Price Waterhouse-Cooper, Goldman Sachs and the London Stock Exchange said employees were operating remotely.
It was a copycat situation of the first lockdown for the top firms, who said only essential workers were allowed in if they fulfilled strict criteria.
In many cases it undid a return to work drive – pushed by Boris Johnson in September – that business had started to embrace.
A quiet, foggy Oxford Street in London this morning, at the start of the four-week national lockdown for England
JP Morgan said it had reverted back to essential workers only, which meant the vast majority of its 16,000 employees in England were working from home
The LSE said it was closed to all but essential staff in roles such as market operations.
PWC said the vast majority were working from home during lockdown, with it the ‘default position’ for staff.
And Goldman Sachs workers were sent a memo ahead of the shutdown telling them to stay home unless completely essential.
It read: ‘In line with the updated measures, as of this Thursday only those who have been designated as in-office essential may come into the office. Your division’s management will confirm whether you fall into this group.
‘For those who are not designated as in-office essential, please make the necessary arrangements to work at home from Thursday, 5 November until further notice. If you have concerns about this, or are unable to effectively work from home, please discuss with your manager. Rest assured, what matters most is your health and wellbeing.
A view from Westminster Bridge in London this morning in foggy conditions at the start of the four-week national lockdown for England
‘For colleagues coming to the office, please note our facilities will continue to adhere to the latest government guidelines, in addition to the firm’s Wellness protocols.
‘Please continue to complete the attestation via theCanopy application and ensure you fully adhere to the measures put in place to provide a safe working environment, including the wearing of masks at all times, except when at your desk. During this period, we will be closing the on-site Fitness Centre effective from Monday; showers and changing rooms will remain open for commuters. The Health Centre and Children’s Centre will remain open from Thursday onwards to support those who are in-office essential only.
‘If you have concerns about your health, please contact your GP. If you have any additional questions in relation to the firm’s Wellness protocols, contact EMEA Wellness Exchange. Thank you for your continued resilience as we adapt to the evolving landscape.’
KPMG has also told colleagues to work from home in lockdown, with teams set up for it.
One top 20 business told MailOnline: ‘It’s all very déjà vu’.