Tuesday, 13 October 2020

London will enter lockdown as 'one city'


London Mayor Sadiq Khan today warned it is 'inevitable' that London will be plunged into a Tier Two lockdown this week as he admits he wants every borough to face the same coronavirus restrictions.

The UK capital is currently ranked as a 'medium' risk zone in the Government's three-tier system of local alerts for England, and was expected to remain there when the restrictions come into force tomorrow.

But the Mayor warned today that London will 'inevitably' be moved upwards 'this week', setting off alarm bells among hospitality chiefs who fear their businesses could go to the wall if a second shutdown ensues. 

Mr Khan said the city will pass a 'trigger point' to enter the Tier Two restrictions in the 'next few days', and insisted London should move as a whole into higher restrictions despite variable rates across the capital.

'All the indicators I have, hospital admissions, ICU occupancy, the numbers of older people with cases, the prevalence of the disease, the positivity are all going the wrong direction,' he said. 

 'Which means, I'm afraid, it's inevitable over the course of the next few days London will have passed a trigger point to be in the second tier.' 

'We're keen to go as one as we can see the complexities and the confusion caused by some boroughs having additional restrictions and other boroughs having less. Many Londoners work in one borough, live in another borough, study in another borough, go to a restaurant in another borough so we're really keen to go as one city.'    

Downing Street has not ruled out moving London into Tier Two. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: 'There's a process for considering whether further measures are needed in all parts of the country and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to pre-empt that.

'We look at a wide range of different data and take advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and local health officials on the ground, so we look not only at infection rates but also the rate of positive tests, admissions to hospitals, and admissions to intensive care units.

'We continue to closely monitor the data in all parts of England and I think we have shown that if it's judged additional measures are necessary we haven't hesitated to act.' 

It comes as hospitality chiefs warned that London's hotels, pubs and restaurants could be 'decimated' by new coronavirus restrictions if the capital is plunged into a second tier lockdown.  

Liverpool yesterday became England's first Tier Three coronavirus shutdown zone, which means pubs not serving food must shut from tomorrow under the new local lockdown rules.

Tier Two restrictions imposed in regions including Greater Manchester and Nottingham have cut off many hospitality venues from receiving bailout money under the Government's furlough-style scheme. 

Richard Corrigan, one of the West End's best known restaurateurs, said many establishments were already 'fighting' to stay afloat and would not survive a second hospitality shutdown. 

Guillaume Marly, Managing Director of London's Hotel Café Royal, said a second lockdown would be 'hugely detrimental to our industry' and the 'nail in the coffin for a vast amount of businesses'.

'There has been an unacceptable lack of consideration and understanding for our industry as a whole and now is the time to show support,' he told the Daily Telegraph.

Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels, which operates several properties in London, also criticised Government moves to plunge the capital into lockdown.

He told the newspaper: 'We are of course disappointed to hear that there may be limitations put in place that would affect the hospitality industry once again. The safety of our staff and guests is paramount.'  

In other coronavirus developments today: 

  • Britain recorded 13,972 coronavirus cases yesterday, a rise of 11 per cent on last Monday, and 50 deaths;
  • Boris Johnson Johnson is braced for a backlash as MPs vote on the 'Tiered' coronavirus lockdown system; 
  • Poll found public does not believe the measures are tough enough and want the Government to go further; 
  • Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is demanding the PM imposes a legal ban on people in high-infection areas in England travelling to Wales, threatening to enforce the rule unilaterally if he does not; 
  • The unemployment rate has risen to 4.5 per cent, with an 138,000 increase in June to August, after experts concluded data collection methodology was masking the scale of the problem;
  • Labour leaders in the North demanded more cash handouts from the government to support lockdown and called the new furlough scheme 'insufficient'. 

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