London poised for household visits ban by tomorrow as capital faces Tier 2 lockdown

London poised for household visits ban by tomorrow as capital faces Tier 2 lockdown


London could go into a Tier 2 local lockdown by tomorrow banning nine million people in the capital from mixing with other households indoors.

Mayor Sadiq Khan briefed the capital’s health chiefs about such a move after a meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Centre yesterday.

He is also urging Downing Street to put a substantial support package in place.

Moving from “medium” up to “high” would ban Londoners from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.

The Mayor of London has sought clarity on provisions made for businesses, support for vulnerable Londoners and test and trace efforts in the capital, including for those self-isolating after warning the city is on the verge.

The meeting was chaired by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, and an announcement could come as soon as Friday.

It also saw recommendations for much of the North West and North East and large parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands to be placed in the “very high” Tier 3.

Boris Johnson is understood to be considering a version of a nationwide two-week ‘circuit breaker’ full lockdown that scientists say could save thousands of lives – if his tiered system fails.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Tuesday broke ranks to demand new national restrictions to prevent the country from “sleepwalking into a long bleak winter”, as infection rates spiralled.

The drastic measure could be timed to coincide with English schools’ half-term from October 26.

One compromise, however, could see urban areas with higher case numbers subjected to temporary additional measures, reports The Times.

This would enable the PM to continue with his regional approach and not be seen to be bowing down to Sir Keir.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and senior adviser Dominic Cummings are said to be among those urging Mr Johnson to consider a full lockdown before the end of the month.

However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned even a minimal nationwide closure will push firms out of business and cause turmoil to the economy.

While scientific adviser Graham Medley warned it is too late for a circuit breaker lockdown to be fully effective.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, Mr Khan said that as the rate of infections in London was “fast approaching” 100 cases per 100,000, it was “likely” the capital would move to the tier 2 alert level as early as this week.

“It is vital London has the resources to engage, explain, encourage and enforce heightened restriction and support compliance,” Mr Khan said.

“One London borough has done some specific work to estimate the cost of providing that service for six months from November onward and it is £300k over and above the allocation that was recently made to councils for support to compliance.

“I am aware that these are discussions that have taken place with other areas that have had restrictions in place and London government would expect to have those discussions as well.”

Mr Khan said the “unique circumstances” of the capital must be reflected in the approach and support.

He added: “The capital was hit particularly hard during the first wave with many of our communities and particularly the BAME community, suffering disproportionately.

“In addition, many families live in overcrowded accommodation and face high levels of homelessness and rough sleeping.

“Our size and density present specific challenges, with the economic case for protecting businesses in the Central Activities Zone overwhelming.”

Among the requests, Mr Khan urged for clarity on what provisions would be made available for businesses, warning that hundreds of thousands of jobs remain at risk in the capital.

He said it was “critical” that the Government resolves the funding position of Transport for London (TfL), urging a package for the network.

As well as seeking clarity on support for vulnerable Londoners, the mayor called for an immediate increase to testing capacity, as well as a “redoubling” of efforts to ensure testing for staff and residents.

“I will continue to urge Londoners to be vigilant, follow the rules and exercise caution,” he said in the letter.

“I accept that these new measures will impact on businesses and Londoners, but we have a joint responsibility to work together and do what we can to control this virus and save lives.”

The mayor has previously insisted London should move as a whole into higher restrictions despite variable rates across the capital.

Mr Johnson, meanwhile, has urged Sir Keir to persuade northern leaders to get on board with the prospect of severe local restrictions during a heated Commons debate.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham – a former Labour Cabinet member under Gordon Brown – backed a national circuit breaker over further local measures.

It comes after news Northern Ireland will enter a brief period of intense lockdown from 6pm on Friday, including closure of schools for a fortnight and pubs and restaurants for a month after reporting 1,217 new cases on Wednesday.

The Welsh government, meanwhile, is set to introduce a ban on arrivals from areas of Britain with high infection rates after First Minister Mark Drakeford voiced disappointment Downing Street didn’t impose a border closure.

One hundred and thirty-seven more deaths and 19,724 new infections were reported in Britain on Wednesday.

And another 680 patients were admitted to hospital with the virus, bringing the total over the past seven days to 4,576.


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