London is to be placed under Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions on Friday, meaning household mixing indoors, including in hospitality venues, will be banned. Health Minister Helen Whately confirmed the move this morning and is currently briefing London MPs and ministers on the measures.
Speaking to the London Assembly, Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The virus is spreading rapidly in every corner of our city. We’ll soon reach an average of 100 cases per 100,000 people, with a significant number of boroughs already over that threshold. Hospital admissions are up, more patients are going into intensive care units, and sadly the number of Londoners dying everyday is increasing again. It is my expectation that the government will today announce that London will shortly be moving into Tier 2, the High alert level of restrictions.”
Khan added that he will continue to push for even more restrictions. “Given how far the virus has already been allowed to spread, and given the government’s complete failure to get a working Test, Trace and Isolate system in place, I believe we also need action on a national scale, just as the government’s own scientific advisers have recommended. That’s why I’ll continue to call for a short national circuit-breaker,” he told the Assembly.
London has had relatively low infection rates since the peak in April. Over the summer, it was amongst the least restricted cities in the country, but a sudden surge in recent weeks has made both City Hall and Downing Street exceedingly concerned about its nine million citizens. The memory of a major London hospital declaring a critical incident in the first wave over a lack of intensive care capacity has not been forgotten.
Severely restricting the country’s economic and cultural powerhouse will have an outsized impact not just on the economy, but on the national psyche too. It is the clearest indication yet that life will not return to normal anytime soon.
In the coming days, Greater Manchester and Lancashire are also expected to rise up the alert scale, from Tier 2 to Tier 3, with “very high” restrictions to be imposed on hospitality similar to those in Liverpool. Health Secretary Matt Hancock will update MPs on the latest measures in the Commons later today.