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Tough Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions come into force across London
16 December 2020, 00:00 | Updated: 16 December 2020, 00:27
Millions of people in London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire are now living under tough Tier 3 restrictions as new rules come into force following a rise in Covid-19 cases.
The government announced on Monday that the capital would enter Tier 3 after data revealed the number of new cases rose in every single London borough in the week to December 11.
In addition, 42 of the 45 local areas in eastern England, and 66 of the 67 local areas in south-east England, saw a rise in cases in the same week.
in total, around 11 million people in England are now living under the strictest coronavirus rules.
On Tuesday morning, Boris Johnson told his Cabinet that there have been "significant rises" in coronavirus cases in the South East.
Under the new rules, all bars, restaurants and indoor entertainment venues across London and the mentioned areas of Essex and Hertfordshire are closed except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services.
People can no longer meet socially indoors with anyone they do not live with or they are not in a support bubble with, including includes private gardens and most outdoors public venues.
However, retail and personal care - such as hairdressers and beauty salons - can remain open in all tiers.
The measures also mean that football fans in the affected areas cannot go to stadiums or other sporting venues, while theatres are also closed for the foreseeable future.
Speaking about the decision on Tuesday, a Number 10 official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: "The Prime Minister set out the current Covid situation, making clear that in areas such as the South East we are now seeing significant rises.
"The Prime Minister highlighted the rationale for taking immediate action now to move London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire into Tier 3 and looked ahead to the formal review point for all other areas tomorrow.
"The Health Secretary provided an update to Cabinet on the rollout of vaccines across the country, with more GP sites set to deliver the vaccine in the coming days.
Read more: What are the Christmas rules in tier 3?
"The chief medical officer also spoke about the new Covid variant but stressed that there was no evidence to suggest vaccines would not provide immunity against it."
Mr Johnson concluded Cabinet by saying that while 2020 would be remembered as a "very difficult year", the Government could "look back on many achievements".
Making the announcement on Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons: "We've therefore decided to move Greater London, the south and west of Essex, which includes Basildon, Brentwood, Harlow, Epping Forest, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Braintree and Chelmsford, along with Thurrock and Southend-On-Sea borough councils and the south of Hertfordshire which means Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Watford and the Three Rivers local authority into Tier 3 which is the very high alert level."
He added: "I know that this is difficult news and I know that it will mean plans disrupted and that for businesses affected, it will be a significant blow, but this action is absolutely essential not just to keep people safe, but because we've seen early action can prevent more damaging and longer lasting problems later.
"These restrictions will come into force at midnight on Wednesday morning because when the virus moves quickly, we must move quickly too and we must take the actions that are not necessarily easy but are effective."
Mr Hancock said those "most impacted" would continue to be supported through the Government's furlough scheme and support for the self-employed, while there would also be more community testing.
The move has been called a "disaster" for the hospitality industry, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan saying it is "incredibly disappointing for our businesses who have suffered so much already this year".
"We now urgently need much more government support for the sectors of our economy that are being hit the hardest, including hospitality, culture and leisure", he added.
The Charlotte Despard Pub in Archway, north London, had been set to open on Tuesday after having a kitchen installed to allow it to serve food.
Money for the kitchen was raised as part of a crowdfunding appeal. However, with London entering Tier 3 it will not be able to reopen as planned.
The pub’s co-owner Amber Knight told LBC: “It’s entirely predictable. We accept London needs to be in Tier 3 – it probably needed to be put in Tier 3 last week – but the whole managing of everything has been a disaster from start to finish.
“It’s a disaster across the board – for brewers and snack suppliers as well.
“[The Government is] making the same mistakes they made earlier in the year a second time, the messaging has been terrible, the whole one rule of Cummings and one rule for everyone else – that's when it all started going wrong.
“There isn’t any proper recognition of what hospitality and entertainment contribute to the UK economy – we've been hung out to dry.”
She added the pub still hadn’t received promised support from the Government, including the £1,000 grant pledged to wet pubs last month.
The owner of a London restaurant chain described this year as "very difficult" for his business.
Will Bowlby, who runs Kricket, said of the capital going into Tier 3: "We're used to it now, unfortunately. We're used to opening and shutting and opening and shutting and we just have to keep going."
From a business perspective, he said the Government has handled things "really badly" and "mixed messages" have made things more difficult.
Speaking from the Brixton branch of his Indian restaurants, Mr Bowlby said: "The messaging hasn't been clear, it's been very difficult to pivot sometimes when really you don't know what's going on."