London 'at risk of Tier 3' as health chiefs urge people to 'stick to the rules'

4 December 2020, 15:15 | Updated: 4 December 2020, 15:16

London 'could enter Tier three' a public health chief has warned
London 'could enter Tier three' a public health chief has warned. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A public health chief has warned that London is at risk of being placed into Tier 3 as the rate at which cases are falling appears to be slowing.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London director for Public Health England, told the Evening Standard that people in the capital must stick to social distancing and self-isolation rules as lockdown lifts.

His comments come as the dramatic fall in confirmed Covid cases in the capital looked to be slowing.

Prof Fenton told the Standard: “The promising reductions we had begun to see with the recent national restrictions across the capital have shown signs of slowing in recent days - a stark reminder of just how delicate our situation is.  

“If we want to avoid being placed into Tier 3, it is vital we keep transmission down.”

He added: “As we make plans to go out this weekend, whether it’s shopping, eating out or meeting with friends outside, it is vital we remain vigilant and keep in mind that the virus is still present.  

“Our actions over this weekend and in the weeks ahead will make a big difference to our outlook over the festive period and into the New Year."

Official figures show the seven-day infection rate in the capital was virtually unchanged in four days, with latest data putting it at 155.8 new cases per 100,000 population in the week to November 28.

It was 154.3, 154.5 and 156.1 for the previous three days, having fallen at a significantly faster rate since mid-November.

Twenty-six borough areas still saw falls in cases numbers in the week to November 28 but many of them were smaller drops than in earlier days.

Prof Fenton added: “We are continuing to see a mixed picture of cases across London’s boroughs, with much higher levels in the north east of the city.  

“However, even in those areas that have had the biggest declines, rates are still far too high.”

London went into Tier 2 in a decision described by Health Secretary Matt Hancock as "borderline".

He also said there is "a lot of work to do" for London to stay in the lower bracket.

Earlier this week, Michael Gove told LBC that Tier 2 restrictions in London are "justified", following reports that he pushed for the city to be placed under the toughest Tier 3 restrictions but was overruled by the Prime Minister.

Mr Gove was questioned by Nick Ferrari over the discussions that took place around the new Tier system, with Nick asking: "Is it true that you argued for London to go into Tier 3 and you lost that conversation?"

The Cabinet Minister replied: "I never talk about what goes on in Cabinet discussions but I think the right approach was taken at the end.

"I think the situation in London is somewhere when Tier 2 is justified because we know that the level of infection is falling in the majority of boroughs."

It comes after it was widely reported that Boris Johnson overruled Mr Gove's calls for London to be placed under the harshest Tier 3 restrictions.

Boris Johnson overruled Mr Gove following lobbying from Tory MPs and concerns over the flagging hospitality industry in the city, the Telegraph reported.

There had been warnings that placing the capital in Tier 3 would wipe out half the hospitality industry in the city and trigger an "atomic bomb" of job losses after Christmas.

Currently, pubs can open in the capital but only if they serve a substantial meal with alcohol.

Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan also said it was the "right decision" because "Londoners have done exactly what has been asked of them since the start of this pandemic."