London to move to Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions
- Credit: PA
London will be moved to Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions from midnight on Friday, MPs in the capital have been told.
The new measures - confirmed by health secretary Matt Hancock in a House of Commons statement - will see people unable to meet those from other households in an indoor setting.
This includes public places such as restaurants and pubs, as well as private homes.
Meetings outdoors can continue under the new ‘high’ restrictions as long as the Rule of Six - no more than six people, including children - is followed.
Most other restrictions for those living in London boroughs remain the same as those in the ‘medium’ tier.
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Several other regions, including neighbouring Essex, have also moved into Tier 2.
Coronavirus cases across the capital have increased over the past few weeks, including in the east London boroughs.
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Mr Hancock said: “Infection rates are on a steep upward path with the number of cases doubling every 10 days.
“The seven-day average case rate stands today at 97 rising sharply. We know from the first peak, the infection can spread fast and put huge pressures on the NHS so we must act now to prevent the need for tougher measures later on.
“So working closely with the mayor, with cross-party council leadership, with local public health officials and the national team, we’ve together agreed that London needs to move to local Covid alert level high.”
It comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wrote an open letter to the prime minister warning that the capital-wide rate was fast approaching 100 cases in every 100,000 people.
Mr Khan told the London Assembly: “Final conversations with ministers are ongoing around this as we meet - but I expect ministers to make an announcement to Parliament later today.”
He said the decision was based on “expert public health and scientific advice” about what is necessary to save lives in the city.
“In addition to the restrictions already in place, this would mean different households in London not being allowed to mix indoors,” he said.
“Nobody wants to see more restrictions - but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners lives by myself, London council leaders and by ministers.”
Although the move from Tier 1 to Tier 2 will not see businesses required to close, unlike in the toughest Tier 3 category, Ilford North MP Wes Streeting warned the new restrictions in London would keep them open “in name only”.
He said: “The big challenge we’ve got is that it is the nature of Tier 2 restrictions - the fact that different households cannot mix - means that businesses will be open in name only.
“There are lots of restaurants, pubs, bars and other venues whose doors will be open but customers will just not be walking through the door.”
His counterpart in Ilford South, Sam Tarry, said: “Today’s decision to move London into Tier 2 is a step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough. Boroughs such as Redbridge are suffering soaring Covid infection rates and rising hospital admissions. “That’s why I’ve written to the Health Secretary to call for a full circuit-breaker lockdown across the capital. This would be a short, sharp measure for two weeks which would prevent London suffering the fate of other major cities across the country.”
London Assembly Member for City and East, Unmesh Desai, added: “No one really wants to implement further restrictions, but there is a real need to do so.
“This is essential if we’re to slow down the rate of infections in our communities and save lives. In recent days we’ve seen cases rising in all London boroughs, and so this is a necessary step.
“I’m urging all Londoners to adhere to these new restrictions, as hard as they are. We must all work together to stop the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives.”