Some of London’s biggest tourist spots have been left empty as stark aerial images reveal eerie shots of Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus sparsely populated as the capital gets to grips with the coronavirus pandemic.
Many of the capital’s museums have also decided to close their doors and the Royal Albert Hall along with the Natural History Museum and the V&A will close until early summer, while the Science Museum will remain open for now.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night highlighted that London was the worst-hit area of the UK, with the most cases and deaths of the virus.
Across the UK there have been 1,543 confirmed cases, 407 in London. The country has seen 67 deaths, over ten of which have been in the capital.
Today images of a usually thriving Piccadilly showed just a few pedestrians and several vehicles, a route that is usually packed with cars beeping their horns and tourists running around and taking pictures of the sites.
Theatres and museums across the capital have been closed due to the outbreak with institutions such as the V&A and the Natural History Museum shutting their doors for the foreseeable future.
Other aerial shots showed Trafalgar Square, many tourists usually flock to the area for stunning views of central London and of course to visit the National Gallery, but today the area was near enough empty.
He also today tweeted: ‘In line with the most recent medical advice, all events in Trafalgar Square are cancelled until further notice. We must take all necessary precautions to ensure the health of all people in London’.
Other shots showed the Tower Hill area, a huge tourist spot for many. Other areas such as Oxford Street and Covent Garden were also left empty.
The National Portrait Gallery in London will also close temporarily from March 18, it announced today. Bosses at the group said this was to ‘prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of visitors and staff’.
‘We will continue to closely monitor the situation and act on the advice of the UK Government and Public Health England. In the meantime, we look forward to staying connected to our audiences online and hope to be able to welcome visitors back to the gallery again soon.’
This is while the Natural History Museum, the V&A, The Tate the Southbank Centre and the Royal Albert Hall will also close.
The museums said they were ‘disappointed’ with having to close and while they didn’t give a precise opening date, said it would likely be ‘early summer’.
The British Museum will close temporarily from March 18.
Director Hartwig Fischer said: ‘We have taken this decision with a heavy heart but our absolute priority is the health and safety of our staff and visitors.
‘At present we do not know when we will be able to reopen but we hope to be able to provide further updates soon.’
‘The museum remains accessible through our digital channels. We will be updating and adding to this content during the period we are closed to allow visitors to stay in touch with the museum.
‘We will share our collections, research and programmes in new ways that will not require a trip to the museum. We look forward to welcoming our visitors back to the museum as soon as we can.’
In terms of public transport the Underground, Overground and Docklands Light Railway Service could see journeys reduced as thousands of commuters work from home.
The Mayor of London told Good Morning Britain that scaling down could begin as soon as this week and will also affect TfL Rail.
The plans would see journeys on weekdays cut down to the numbers customers are used to having at the weekend.
Mr Khan told the show: ‘What we may do over the course of next few days and weeks is go down to a Saturday Sunday service and maybe scale that down over the course of the next few days and weeks.’
He also revealed that despite requesting to attend the Government’s Cobra meetings over the last few weeks to help the capital cope with the Covid-19 crisis, he was only finally invited yesterday.
‘I’ve been asking to attend the Cobra meetings for weeks,’ he said. ‘For the first time yesterday morning we got call from downing street inviting us to Cobra.
‘We were told London is a few weeks ahead of rest of the country and way this virus is spreading is faster than government and ministers thought.’
Other plans that could be rolled out to help London cope with the coronavirus pandemic include subsidising hotels to take in the homeless, he added.
‘I raised this point yesterday in reference to rough sleepers,’ he said. ‘There’s no reason at all bearing in mind record vacancies hotels and motels have that they shouldn’t be used to help homeless.’
He demanded more clarity from the Government on whether pubs should shut or remain open.
The Government is currently advising the public to stay away from bars, pubs and restaurants.
But Mr Khan said that because the Prime Minister has not ordered the businesses to shut they are not able to claim lost earnings on insurance.
‘One of the biggest concerns is the lack of clarity,’ Mr Khan said. ‘We’ve had now bold action to add people’s health we need bold action to help people’s livelihoods.
‘What I’m being told is because it’s not a ban they cant claim for insurance. Many of these businesses rely on cash flow to pay wages – even a week’s closure means they can’t pay wages.’
He added: ‘My concern about the lack of support for businesses is that people may choose to work to keep food on table rather than self-isolate.’
London commuters have told how they are closing down their work-places and preparing to work from home as the Coronavirus pandemic takes hold.
Businessmen, accountants and engineers were among the few passengers arriving at Waterloo station in what is usually the rush hour.
They told how they would pick up laptops and attend meetings to coordinate working from home. While key workers explained why they had to come into town.
Businessman Ivan Bell, 56, from Hastings, told MailOnline: ‘I run a packaging design company and I’ve come in to organize how we are going to work from home.
‘I have offices in London, New York and San Francisco.
‘We have already shut the office down in California and today I will be shutting down the offices in London and New York.’
Accountant Sharon Da Costa, 50, from north London, told MailOnline: ‘Today is my last day. Half of the office is already working from home and I’m just getting everything I need so I can do the same.’
Public Relations worker Emma Smith added: ‘I’ve come in for a meeting to work out how we are going to work from home.’
Marketing Executive Helen Jones, 51, from Staines, said: ‘This is my last day. I’m collecting my laptop so that I can work from home.
‘Some of us left the office before the government announcement urging people to stay at home last night.’
Structural engineer Richard Whitehead, 48, from Fleet, Hants, said: ‘We are working at the moment but I’m sure everything will soon grind to a halt.
‘We are already having meetings by conference call so that people can work from home.’
Hannah Milbourn, 23, from Public Health England, explained: ‘I can’t work from home. I’m part of the team who is organizing the response to the Coronavirus and issues the guidance on how best to tackle. It.’
A university lecturer told how he was obliged to come to work until the institution closed down.
He added: ‘As long as the students are coming I will be coming to work. We will put all lecturers online from tomorrow. But if the students are there I should be as well.’
University pay-roll manager Jenny Fitzgerald added: ‘I’m the person who makes sure everyone gets paid. So I have to come in.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Terri-Ann Williams