London 'likely' to enter Tier 2 of covid restrictions this week, Sadiq Khan warns

15 October 2020, 07:04 | Updated: 15 October 2020, 09:33

London could enter tier two this week
London could enter tier two this week. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Sadiq Khan has suggested London could enter the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions this week.

Mr Khan has urged the Prime Minister to put a support package in place for the capital.

The Mayor of London wants clarity on provisions made for businesses, support for vulnerable Londoners and test and trace efforts in the capital.

He posted a series of messages on Twitter today about measures, including an increase in testing capacity, to protect people living in the capital and bring Covid-19 under control.

Alongside a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Mr Khan wrote: "Urgent action is needed to protect Londoners and bring the virus under control in our city...

"Government must provide proper financial help to all businesses and vulnerable Londoners affected by restrictions, as well as local authorities who support them.

"It is essential that no one should be faced with added financial hardship through redundancy or a loss of earnings, and is able to access benefits or crisis support straight away should they need to.

"We also need an immediate increase in testing capacity so that London's testing rates can increase to the national average."

In the letter to Boris 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 next alert level as early as this week.

Read more: What does 'tier two' of lockdown mean?

Read more: France declares state of emergency

Moving from "medium" up to "high" would see the nine million people living in the capital banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.

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

"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.

What are the tier two rules?

You must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place

You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law)

Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law

Certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am

Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through

Schools, universities and places of worship remain open

Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees

Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport

You can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible