Sadiq Khan: New London lockdown curbs will arrive imminently

21 September 2020, 18:47 | Updated: 21 September 2020, 20:43

Sadiq Khan said he has 'no choice' but to impose fresh curbs
Sadiq Khan said he has 'no choice' but to impose fresh curbs. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

New lockdown restrictions are imminent in London, Sadiq Khan has said, following an emergency meeting with officials.

The Mayor said the beleaguered test and trace system means "we have no choice but to look at other measures" to stem coronavirus.

He said he has drafted up a "new London plan to slow the spread of the virus and save Londoners lives", adding he "firmly" believes acting early is right.

"This includes some new restrictions," Mr Khan said in a statement on Monday evening.

"We will collectively be asking the Government to implement this plan as soon as possible and I will be discussing it with the Prime Minister tomorrow morning.

“I will be as clear as possible with Londoners about the full details and what it means for them as soon as it is agreed with Government."

He said the new package of measures did not include more limitations on households mixing with each other.

But speaking to LBC, he warned London "may have to go it alone" if Boris Johnson's expected national curbs fail to go far enough.

Read more: UK could see 50,000 cases and 200 deaths per day in mid-November

Read more: Grandparents allowed to care for under-14s in household mixing exemption

It came as the UK's chief medical officers raised the Covid alert level from 3 to 4, the second highest, indicating "transmission is high or rising exponentially”.

The Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, warned the UK could see 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day and “200-plus deaths per day” by mid-November without further restrictions. 

The PM will chair an emergency Cobra committee meeting on Tuesday morning ahead of addressing the nation at 8pm. A further 4,368 cases and 11 deaths were reported on Monday.

Mr Khan told Eddie Mair on LBC that he has not been invited to a Cobra meeting yet, adding: "I'd be astonished if the Mayor of London wasn't invited bearing in mind we're the capital city, we're a global city, with a population bigger than Scotland and Wales put together."

He said he wants to attend the meeting in order to present his plan for London, after meeting cross-party council leaders to clarify what the new measures will involve.

He told LBC: "We want to do whatever we can to avoid a second lockdown, as we saw in March and April. We've seen some of the measures introduced in the North East, the North West, Birmingham and elsewhere...and so I'll be asking the Prime Minister to consider additional measures in our city."

This would include reinforcing stricter social distancing - such as returning to two metre distancing - and enforcing the wearing of face coverings in more environments.

"Although the number of positive cases appears not to be escalating, we've got other metrics to show that the cases are going up, for example 111 calls, calls to GP...hospital admissions," Mr Khan said, "we fear the number of cases in our city could be far larger than is known."

He also told Eddie that while he isn't calling for a 10pm curfew for pubs - a measure introduced in North East England - he wants new rules to stop potentially asymptomatic people from socialising as frequently.

"We've seen in other parts of the country where there is a higher virus rate those sorts of measures," he said.

He added: "If his announcement tomorrow in terms of national restrictions aren't adequate to cover what we'd like to see but we may have to go alone."

"I hope it won't come to that," Mr Khan said, "what I hope would happen is the Prime Minister will put aside petty party politics and say we're on the same side here...let's work together to come up with a menu of additional measures that will slow down the spread of the virus."

It follows Mr Khan calling for measures to be imposed "early" to stop coronavirus spiralling "out of control" and avoid a second national lockdown.

The Mayor's office said it was better to "move too early than too late" as Covid-19 cases begin to rise in the capital.