London must enter Tier 3 ‘in next 48 hours’ or risk ‘terrible situation’

9 December 2020, 11:06 | Updated: 9 December 2020, 16:33

Shopper in Regent Street over the weekend
Shopper in Regent Street over the weekend. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions must be imposed in London within the next 48 hours if the capital is to avoid a surge in deaths over Christmas, an expert has warned.

The latest data shows a worrying increase in new coronavirus cases in the majority of London boroughs.

Professor John Ashton, a former regional director of public health for north-west England, told the Guardian: “[The government] needs to decide in the next 48 hours whether to move London into Tier 3 otherwise they really risk a terrible situation for London, with deaths going up during the Christmas period.

“They might have to go to complete lockdown.”

READ MORE: Two NHS staff 'recovering well' after allergic reaction to Covid vaccine

READ MORE: Schools can close early on 18 December to give teachers a 'proper break'

Government officials are due to review England’s tiered restrictions on December 16, however Prof Ashton insisted this would be too late for the capital.

He said: “It would be exactly what [the government] has done throughout this [pandemic], which is to make these decisions one or two weeks too late.

“If they want people to feel that they have got some semblance of Christmas, then they are going to have to be decisive for once.”

In Tier 3 areas all bars, restaurants and indoor entertainment venues must close.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The number of cases in London are rising again and if we don’t all work together now we may face tougher restrictions across the capital.

“Londoners have worked incredibly hard to help bring down the number of cases before, but we must not risk undoing all the sacrifices that have been made by lowering our guard and allowing cases to rise further ahead of Christmas.

“I urge all Londoners to follow the rules - for the good of the loved ones that we want to see over the festive period and to help all our local businesses who need our support.

“No one wants to see a devastating further surge in cases or the need for more restrictions, so we must act now and do all we can to protect each other and our NHS.”

Speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock also called on Londoners to "stick by the rules and not push the boundaries".

"We know what happens when case numbers go up: sadly more people end up in hospital and more people end up dying,” he said.

"My message to everybody in London is please respect the restrictions; respect what needs to be done; keep yourself and your family and your community and your city safe.”

The latest data shows the number of new coronavirus cases increased in three quarters of London’s boroughs in the week to December 3.

Havering in east London has the highest coronavirus rate in the capital, with 898 new cases recorded during that week - the equivalent of 346 cases per 100,000 people.

This is up from 268.5 per 100,000 people in the seven days to November 26.