Sadiq Khan raises questions over local lockdown for London amid rise in cases in capital

30 June 2020, 11:37

The Mayor has asked how the Government would support Londoners in dealing with a local lockdown
The Mayor has asked how the Government would support Londoners in dealing with a local lockdown. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Sadiq Khan has asked for “further information, detail and assurance” as to how the capital would deal with local Covid-19 lockdowns as experts warn of more possible restrictions in other areas.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock seeking clarity on how devolved powers would enforce local lockdown measures.

His question comes as Leicester is forced into lockdown with the Health Secretary telling LBC that he will change the law to enforce restrictions after a surge in cases of coronavirus there as the rest of England prepares for a loosening of rules from Saturday, 4 July.

The Mayor warned: “We cannot expect local outbreaks to align with borough boundaries, so given London’s geography it is essential that we are able to establish wider coordination across the city to respond appropriately to each outbreak."

He asked Mr Hancock for clarity on what devolved powers were available to enforce local measures such as asking people to stay home and not meet other people.

Mr Khan added: "As lockdown measures are eased, we must do all we can to prevent a second wave.

"Whilst we hope that the number of Covid-19 cases remains low, we must be prepared for the possibility of local outbreaks and spikes.

"To support a localised approach we need more information about the Government's plans for mobilising and delivering the response to local outbreaks.

"Without further clarity on the powers and resources at London's disposal to manage any 'local lockdown' or enhanced social distancing measures, we cannot deliver public confidence in the response that Londoners expect and deserve."

His letter comes after Leicester's Mayor suggested that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers in Leicester may be forced to stay closed for two more weeks after a rise in coronavirus cases.

Leicester has recorded 866 new cases of coronavirus in the last two weeks - leading to speculation over the weekend that the city would be locked down.

Sir Peter said a Public Health England (PHE) report sent to him overnight said current restrictions in place across England should be extended in Leicester for a further two weeks.

In his letter, Mr Khan also questioned how the furlough and job support schemes will be flexible to support local outbreak responses.

He added: "Lockdown in an area would have an immediate impact on local businesses, the livelihoods of the people they employ, and anyone who would not be able to attend their place of work.

"A lack of public confidence in these issues could lead to non-compliance with local measures."

Virus experts have warned there are other major cities, including Birmingham and Manchester, which could face local lockdown within the next six months.

Currently, 36 local authorities in England have experienced a spike in Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks.

Data compiled by Public Health England (PHE) shows the London borough of Havering and the county of Wiltshire have seen the biggest week-on-week increases in confirmed Covid-19 infections (300 per cent).

In comparison, Leicester has recorded a 5 per cent jump in cases – going from 39 cases registered between June 13-19 to 41 in the following seven-day spell.

Data analysed by The Daily Telegraph shows Leicester last week recorded the second-highest amount of cases across England – behind only Kent.