The Covid crush-hour: Moment scores of commuters cram onto Tube

Scores of commuters crammed onto the Tube this morning as three trains were cancelled after staff went off sick with Covid – as construction workers called for sites to be shut because they ‘don’t feel safe’ on public transport.

The footage was filmed at Canning Town station in east London, which is seen as a bottleneck due to the large number of builders and other key workers who live locally and depend on the Tube to travel to work in the city centre. 

TfL said two early trains had to be cancelled due to sickness and a third was as a result of technical issues, as a spokesman insisted the scenes were ‘not representative’ of the wider Tube service. 

Despite concerns over the current surge in the virus, work in the construction and manufacturing industries has continued during recent months in all four nations of the UK.

Today, rail worker and trade union activist has said they feel they and their colleagues working from London Underground stations currently are ‘unsafe’ and that the number of commuters is ‘worse now than it was the first time around’.

The worker, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: ‘If you’re on the Underground system… people are touching the seats, the handrails. The majority of people who are travelling are wearing masks, over their nose and mouth, but a train is not a big place on the Tube!

‘There’s too many people who shouldn’t be travelling, (who) are still travelling. Look at the roads, where’s everyone going? There’s traffic everywhere.’  

London has been the UK’s Covid hotpot with 540,000 cases since the start of March. However, within the last few days the number of hospital admissions has plateaued, while the latest daily cases suggest the infection rate is coming down. 

A total of 60 TfL staff have now tragically died of coronavirus, LBC reported today, while at the start of this week one in ten were off sick or self-isolating.           

The footage was filmed at Canning Town station in east London, which is seen as a bottleneck due to the large number of builders and other key workers who live locally and depend on the Tube to travel to work in the city centre. TfL said there was also a service issue at the station this morning

The unnamed TfL worker, who was speaking to the PA news agency, continued: ‘What we should have done, especially the first time around… is man the (station) gates from outside. Close the gates and man them from outside. If their idea is to stop people from travelling who are non-essential workers or whatever, then that’s the only way to do it. How else can you do it?

‘Even better, we could have had key hub stations. If we’re really bothered about doctors and nurses, these very important people, all we had to have was key hub stations… where essential workers can go.

‘There’s a million things they could have done if they really wanted to do it.’ 

Responding to a video of Canning Town shared by the BBC’s Tom Edwards, Nick Dent, London Underground’s Director of Line Operations, said: ‘Three Jubilee trains serving Canning Town were unfortunately cancelled at short notice this morning due to staff absence, causing higher numbers of people to be waiting on platforms for a short amount of time. 

‘This morning’s video is not representative of the rest of the Tube network nor of this station for the rest of the day.

‘We are doing everything we can to help ensure those who need to travel for legally permitted reasons are able to do so in a safe way and maintain social distancing. 

‘We are running a near normal service, and urging passengers to travel between 08:15 and 16:00 and after 17:30 on weekdays, which are significantly quieter times on the network. TfL has also been working closely with the construction industry and large employers in the area to encourage staggering shifts and operating hours to ease demand, and advice has been sent to the TfL supply chain and construction companies through Build UK.’ 

The UK Government, responsible for the rules in England, encourages staff to travel in to sites if they cannot work at home, saying on its website that ‘this is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers’.

However, Will, a supervisor for a number of sites across the south east of England, said many staff he works with do not feel safe, and called for a pause on non-essential construction while cases of the virus were rocketing.

‘A lot of the construction industry just feel so let down and forgotten during this second wave,’ he said. 

‘Like most construction workers, we are concerned about losing our jobs or even just looking bad to our companies by calling for sites to close to stop the spread.

‘A lot of guys here either don’t feel safe or, to be honest, don’t care, because if they do not come in they don’t get paid, and not paying bills and putting food on the table is a bigger issue to them.’

Will, who asked that his surname was not included, said that he had visited five different sites in the past eight days.

He added that, even though his company provides PPE and other protections, busy train lines in London and a lack of space on site made it ‘impossible to keep people apart’.

‘Personally, I believe they should close non-essential sites for a period of four to six weeks like they did back in April,’ he said.

‘It’s not like we are building a hospital or doing essential motorway works.’

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last week that the status of construction in the country would be kept ‘under review’.

A further 10,020 Covid cases were reported in London on Wednesday, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the capital to 538,132. In the worst-hit boroughs, it is feared the rate could be as high as seven in every 1,000 people (pictured)

A further 10,020 Covid cases were reported in London on Wednesday, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the capital to 538,132. In the worst-hit boroughs, it is feared the rate could be as high as seven in every 1,000 people (pictured)

People wearing face masks were seen waiting at a bus stop in London this morning amidst news lockdown restrictions could be tightened further

People wearing face masks were seen waiting at a bus stop in London this morning amidst news lockdown restrictions could be tightened further

In Scotland, some construction workers were expecting Ms Sturgeon to announce more restrictions on Wednesday, but were left disappointed.

‘I am working on a site where houses cost an average of £400,000,’ one Scottish worker, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.

‘There is not one form of affordable housing on this site and I feel that the only reason I am working is to fund the corporate greed.

‘I do not feel safe at work, I feel as if I am just another number that could be replaced tomorrow.’

A sales worker for a major house builder in England said it ‘makes no sense at all’ that she cannot meet her neighbour inside but can meet ‘hundreds of strangers in a show home’.

Betty, 52, from Yorkshire, said she had been ‘made to go to work’ despite saying ‘we have all of the tools we need to work from home’, such as virtual viewings.

She said: ‘I have to meet with complete strangers inside sometimes for hours on end.

‘I’ve challenged the reasoning behind being an essential worker but the only answer I get is ‘we’re following Government guidelines’. 

In the worst-hit London boroughs, the rate could be as high as seven in every 1,000 people, prompting fears London hospitals will be pushed to capacity. Pictured: A medic unloads a patient from an ambulance at the Royal London hospital in east London this morning

In the worst-hit London boroughs, the rate could be as high as seven in every 1,000 people, prompting fears London hospitals will be pushed to capacity. Pictured: A medic unloads a patient from an ambulance at the Royal London hospital in east London this morning

Betty, who did not want to give her full name, said her job involved ‘not only showing people round show homes but spending hours at a time in an enclosed office while customers are choosing kitchens etc.

‘I had one request appointment the other day from over 80 miles away.

‘I have asked if we could ensure essential appointments only but, who can police what is classed as essential?’

Charlotte Childs, GMB union national officer, said ‘construction workers are rightly concerned about commuting to site, often by public transport, and the risk from Covid-19 as a result.

‘Sites have adopted good practice in terms of social distancing and our members are doing all they can to stay safe.

‘But employers must undertake risk assessments and take appropriate action.

‘Most importantly, workers should not suffer loss of pay as a result of the Government’s mismanagement of this whole crisis and safety should always come first.’

A Health and Safety Executive spokesperson said: ‘Any worker concerned about their health and safety arrangements should talk to their employer.

‘If they remain concerned, they can raise these concerns with us.’

It marked the highest number of UK deaths reported on a single day since the outbreak began. It brings the UK total death toll to 84,767

It marked the highest number of UK deaths reported on a single day since the outbreak began. It brings the UK total death toll to 84,767

The Government said a further 1,564 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday

The Government said a further 1,564 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday

Sadiq Khan says Londoners have not had enough Covid jabs: Mayor calls on vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi to act after capital gets just a tenth of doses despite making up 13% of UK population

By Antonia Paget for MailOnline

The Mayor of London has complained that only a tenth of vaccines distributed across the UK have been given to people in the capital.

Sadiq Khan said he is ‘hugely concerned’ about the amount of Londoners who have been given the vaccine despite making up 13% of UK population.

He called on vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi to act as he announced he has repeatedly called on the Government to scale up the vaccine supply. 

Mr Khan said will be tackling the issue with the government at a meeting set to be held later today. 

The Mayor announced the news on his Twitter page amid rising coronavirus cases in the capital and across the UK. 

Yesterday saw the death toll rise to 1,564 – the highest ever daily figure since the pandemic began – bringing the UK total death toll to 84,767.

In other coronavirus news: 

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed to crack down on Covid rule breakers after police were called to a roof-top rave in Soutwark last night;
  • A Public Health England study reveals a previous coronavirus infection gives people immunity for five months;
  • Education Secretary Gavin Williamson admitted children would stay at home until after the February half-term;
  • A new infectious Covid strain has been identified in Brazil strain and is sending cases soaring in the South American country, 
  • Ministers delayed rules forcing people to get a negative Covid-19 test before entering Britain until Monday;
  • Tennis star Andy Murray tests positive for Covid days before he was due to fly to Melbourne for the tennis season’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open.
Sadiq Khan said only a tenth of Covid vaccines across the UK had been given to people living in the capital. Pictured: Vaccination Centre open today at Lords Cricket Ground

Sadiq Khan said only a tenth of Covid vaccines across the UK had been given to people living in the capital. Pictured: Vaccination Centre open today at Lords Cricket Ground

The Mayor said he is 'hugely concerned' to learn the amount of Londoners who have been given the Covid vaccine

The Mayor said he is ‘hugely concerned’ to learn the amount of Londoners who have been given the Covid vaccine

Queues of ambulances were seen outside the Royal London Hospital as Covid cases in the capital rise

Queues of ambulances were seen outside the Royal London Hospital as Covid cases in the capital rise 

Mr Khan said: ‘I am hugely concerned that Londoners have received only a tenth of the vaccines that have been given across the country. 

‘The situation in London is critical with rates of the virus extremely high, which is why it’s so important that vulnerable Londoners are given access to the vaccine as soon as possible. 

‘I have repeatedly called on the Government to scale up the vaccine supply, and will be meeting the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment today to ensure that we urgently receive an amount of the vaccine that reflects our size, density and the level of need in our city.’

It comes after Mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) declared a 'major incident' in the capital as Covid cases continue to rise

It comes after Mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) declared a ‘major incident’ in the capital as Covid cases continue to rise

It comes days after the Mayor declared a ‘major incident’ in the capital as Covid cases continue to rise. 

He said the spread of the virus ‘out of control.’

In the worst-hit boroughs, it is feared the rate could be as high as one in 20 people people with the virus.  

A further 10,020 Covid cases were reported in London on Wednesday, bringing the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus in the capital to 538,132. 

But there has been a drop in the number of hospital admissions, with 5,919 coronavirus patients admitted in a week.

As of Tuesday there were 7,606 Covid patients in London hospitals, with 1,085 of those patients being treated on ventilators.  

While official NHS figures show 2,371,407 people have already been given a vaccine in England, according to statistics released by the National Immunisation Management Service.   

The jabs are currently being distributed predominantly to people aged 80 and over who are deemed to be more vulnerable to the virus. 

Care home residents and their carers, frontline health and social care workers are also being given prority.  

A cyclist rides across London's deserted Westminster Bridge this morning on another day of the national lockdown

A cyclist rides across London’s deserted Westminster Bridge this morning on another day of the national lockdown

Priti vows MORE police on the streets to tackle rule-breakers as reckless revellers PARTY on UK’s deadliest day 

Home Secretary Priti Patel today warned police are ready to tackle people flouting lockdown rules as she said they were seeing ‘dreadful’ breaches.

Her warning comes as the coronavirus death toll hit a new daily record of 1,564.

The Home Secretary hit out after police broke up several illegal raves last night including one held on a London roof-top as the UK recorded the highest number of Covid deaths since the pandemic began.

Officers in the capital were said to be ‘astounded’ after being called to break up a party at an industrial unit in Southwark last night, where they found at least 20 revellers on top of the building.

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Ms Patel said the government was not intending to make the lockdown tougher over the next few days – but she underlined that there will be harsher enforcement.

She said police were having to ‘break up some really dreadful situations where people are breaching the rules’.

‘It is important that we enforce these rules. Your viewers will see more police officers out and about,’ she said.

‘The rules are clear and the majority of the British public are following the rules.’

Pointing to the huge death toll yesterday, she said most people understood the need to ‘stop the spread of the virus’.

‘The police will continue to issue fines and enforce against people who are flagrantly breaching the rules,’ she said.  

 

But in inner London, over 80s make up only 2.5% of the population, according to the Trust for London charity. 

London’s population is also comparatively young compared to the rest of the country with the average age in the capital reaching 35.6, compared to 40.3 in the UK overall.

Despite the shocking figures, rule breakers continued to flout the restrictions. 

Officers in the capital were said to be ‘astounded’ after being called to break up a party at an industrial unit in Southwark last night, where they found at least 20 revellers on top of the building.

Police were called out to reports of loud music coming from the roof by disgusted residents.

Many cheered the police on when they arrived to break up the illegal gathering on Pages Walk, Southwark.

Officers found more than 20 people drinking, eating and playing music, leaving one officer ‘astounded’ at the rule-breaking.

Two people were arrested, including one individual on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon, while another was arrested for suspected drug dealing.

A further five people were handed fines for breaching Covid restrictions before the party was fully dispersed around 11.30pm. 

It led Home Secretary Priti Patel to hit out at those brazenly flouting the restrictions. 

She warned police will continue to issue fines and enforce against people who are ‘flagrantly breaching the rules.’

It came as the Home Secretary confirmed the government was not intending to make the lockdown tougher over the next few days.

But the Mayor of London has called for tougher restrictions in a big to halt the virus’ spread. 

Announcing the major incident in London last week, Mr Khan called for churches and other places of worship to be closed.

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he also demanded face masks be worn routinely outside of the home, including in supermarket queues and other places outside that may be crowded.

He also wants more financial support for Londoners who need to self-isolate and are unable to work, and for daily vaccination data.

In a statement Mr Khan said: ‘The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control.’

Major incidents were declared in London after the Grenfell Tower disaster, the London Bridge and Westminster terror attacks, and the Croydon tram crash in November 2016.   

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