20 December 2020 12:33
Sign me up for news alerts Hundreds of people were spotted piling into Kent's biggest shopping centre to buy last-minute gifts and supplies before the county was plunged into Tier 4. Lines of cars formed along the A2 slip road at Bean, which directs traffic towards Bluewater, shortly after Boris Johnson's announcement yesterday evening. Hundreds of shoppers descended on Bluewater before it closed yesterday. Picture: @GluckAphra/Twitter Crowds of shoppers were also snapped inside the Greenhithe complex, ahead of the government-imposed closure of many of its stores. One Twitter user said they had never seen so many people at the shopping centre.
They wrote: "I went past Bluewater shopping centre about 5pm. Never seen it so busy. "Traffic was mental. The world and his wife headed out for last-minute shopping. "And people wonder how we have been put in Tier 4." Under the new restrictions, which came into place at midnight, all non-essential stores have closed and travel bans have been imposed.
Queues of vehicles were seen filling the roads leading to and from Bluewater. A Twitter user noted: "Just driven past Bluewater - scary stuff in this rain. "With lockdown announced its shopmageddon with drivers out there." The mixing of households has also been significantly reduced under the new rules - scuppering many people's plans for the festive period. Bluewater has confirmed that a number of its shops have locked their doors this morning. A spokesman said: "In line with government guidance non-essential stores at Bluewater are now closed. "Our essential stores - including John Lewis Foodhall and M&S - takeaway food options and our car park are still open. "Some brands will be offering click and collect." Speaking from Downing Street yesterday, the Prime Minister revealed the county would be placed under the stricter Tier 4 restrictions, amid growing concern over a fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus circulating in the South East. Hundreds of people descended on Bluewater yesterday Mr Johnson confirmed that household mixing at Christmas is off the agenda across the county - where 51 Covid-19 deaths were reported yesterday - and other parts of the country worst-hit by the virus. "These areas will enter a new Tier 4, which will be broadly equivalent to the national restrictions in place in England in November," the Conservative leader explained. "That means residents in those areas must stay at home, apart from limited exemptions set out in law. "Non-essential retail, gyms and leisure facilities, and personal care services must close. People must work from home where they can. "People should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home. "Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor space." For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here. Read more: All the latest news from Dartford Sign up to FREE email alerts from KentLive - Daily Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email Pictures have emerged of Kent residents rushing to the shops just hours before the county moved into Tier 4 of the Government's coronavirus restrictions. The newly announced Tier 4 sees all 'non essential' shops closed alongside gyms, hairdressers and entertainment venues. Shoppers were seen queuing on the A2 slip road to get in to Bluewater near Dartford, while Whitefriars in Canterbury was packed with families making the most of the last chance to get presents. Yesterday (December 19) Boris Johnson also announced plans to loosen Christmas plans had been axed for people in Tier 4 locations. KentLive newsletter: We bring the stories to you Signing up to the KentLive newsletter means you'll receive our daily news email every weekday morning. It couldn't be simpler and it takes seconds - you can do it right at the top of this page in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms. Type your email address into the 'sign up to free daily alerts' box, press 'subscribe' and you're all set. Changed your mind? There's an 'unsubscribe' button at the bottom of every newsletter we send out. All non essential shops at Bluewater are now closed but essential stores like the John Lewis and M&S food hall remain open. Bluewater also confirmed some companies are now offering click and collect. Yesterday, the shopping centre in Greenhithe confirmed its Winterland event had been cancelled too. The new Tier 4 rules have come in to effect this morning (December 20) Elsewhere Canterbury was pictured looking very busy on the sudden final shopping day before Christmas. The high street and surrounding areas were packed with people looking for last minute items. What does tier 4 mean? Under tier 4 restrictions, non-essential shops, hairdressers and leisure and entertainment venues will close, with a new "stay at home" message introduced. People who need to travel for education or childcare will be exempt, and exercise will be unlimited. Where people cannot work from home, they are still able to travel to work. Under the measures, households will not be allowed to mix, but one person will be allowed to meet with one other person outside in a public space. Support bubbles and those meeting for childcare will be exempt. Those who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable should not go to work and should limit time outside of their homes. Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home, and cannot travel abroad. People in all tiers are advised to stay local, and "think carefully" about whether they need to travel abroad.