London to enter Tier 2 of covid restrictions from midnight on Friday

15 October 2020, 12:12 | Updated: 15 October 2020, 14:48

By Kate Buck

London is set to move into Tier 2 of the government's coronavirus restrictions from midnight on Friday, Sadiq Khan has confirmed.

Care Minister Helen Whately revealed the development on a call with MPs ahead of a statement from the Health Secretary.

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

The capital, along with Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield will move into the second tier of measures.

Figures show the worst affected London boroughs are Ealing with 144 cases per 100,000, Richmond upon Thames with 137 per 100,000 and Hackney with 134 per 100,000.

Read more: Tier two restrictions - explained

Read more: Follow all the latest developments LIVE

People in support bubbles are permitted to mix in indoor settings, and childcare bubbles are allowed to continue.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the move was needed to “save lives” in the capital and was "necessary in order to protect Londoners.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the move was need to “save lives” in the capital and was "necessary in order to protect Londoners"
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the move was need to “save lives” in the capital and was "necessary in order to protect Londoners". Picture: PA

In a statement he said: "Today announced that London will be moving into Tier 2, or the 'high alert' level of restrictions.

"I've had a meeting this morning with the Secretary of State for Health and the MHCLG as well as London leaders and scientific advisors.

"Our conversations with Ministers ongoing as we meet. But I expect Ministers to make an announcement to Parliament later this morning.

"This move is based on the expert public health and scientific advice about what is necessary to save lives in the capital.

"In addition to this restrictions already in place, this would mean different households in London not being able to mix indoors.

"Nobody wants to see more restrictions, but this is deemed to be necessary in order to Londoners by myself, London Council leaders and by Ministers.

Mr Khan said he was still pushing the Government for financial assistance for businesses which are affected by the new measures.

"As part of our discussions I've also made clear to Government that we need more financial support for London's businesses, workers and public services as we face more restrictions and I will continue to make this case", he said.

"Given how far the virus has already been allowed to spread, and given the Government's complete failure to get a working test, trace and isolate system in place, I believe we also need action on a national scale just as the Government's own scientific advisors have recommended.

Many of London's Boroughs are above 100 infections per 100,000
Many of London's Boroughs are above 100 infections per 100,000. Picture: DHSC

"That's why I'll continue to call for a short circuit breaker. This could save thousands of lives, drive the virus down to manageable levels and give the Government time to finally get a grip on its failing Test and Trace system".

It is also understood that Essex will be also be put into Tier 2 restrictions.

However, Thurrock has already confirmed it will not be going into stricter rules - even if the rest of the area does announce stricter measures.

Harlow MP Robert Halfon said he would back Tier 2 measures for Essex but would call on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to prevent businesses suffering financially from the move.

The senior Conservative MP said: "Sadly I support the Tier 2 measures, if Essex does go into them, because otherwise if we don't act early we could face a situation, a real struggle, that sadly so many northern towns and cities are facing at this time."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is braced for the toughest controls in the UK so far with pubs and restaurants set to close for four weeks from Friday and schools facing a two-week shutdown.

And the UK Government described a decision by the Welsh Government to ban travel to the country from other parts of the UK with high levels of coronavirus infection as "disappointing".

Boris Johnson remains desperate to avoid any form of national lockdown - despite demands from Labour for a temporary "circuit-breaker" to break the train of transmission and stem the spread of the disease.

In the Commons on Wednesday, he urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to use his influence with Labour authorities in the North to agree to "stringent measures" to get the rates down.

But in an online press conference on Wednesday, Mr Burnham said that if Greater Manchester was placed into Tier 3 it would be "by imposition, not consent" and threatened legal action.

Meanwhile, the Government's former homelessness adviser Dame Louise Casey has warned the offer of two-thirds of pay for workers whose employers close would not "cut it".

Under the furlough scheme, the Government paid 80% of workers' wages until August, with the scheme winding down until it is fully closed at the end of the month.

A separate Job Support Scheme, which launches on November 1 and lasts for six months, will involve the Government paying two-thirds of each employee's salary - up to a maximum of £2,100 a month - if their employer is legally required to close their premises because of restrictions.

Shadow Treasury chief secretary Bridget Phillipson said: "People shouldn't have to worry about meeting their rent, paying the bills or putting food on the table because the Government has lost control of virus."