London Mayor Sadiq Khan is meeting with Boris Johnson to discuss tough new lockdown restrictions aimed at tackling a steep hike in coronavirus infections in the capital.
In a statement yesterday, Khan announced that he had “just met with local council leaders from all parties and public health experts to agree a new London plan to slow the spread of the virus and save Londoners’ lives”.
This morning, the mayor tweeted that he would “be speaking to the prime minister shortly” to discuss “the measures we need in London to protect our city” and would update residents “on the next steps as soon as I can”.
How bad are London infection rates?
Khan warned on Friday that the introduction of new social distancing measures in London was becoming “increasingly likely”, adding that he was “extremely concerned” by the latest evidence from public health experts about the rising rate of Covid cases in the capital.
The i news site reports that the number of cases per 100,000 people “has jumped from 18.8 to around 25” in just a week, and “is thought to be above 30 in at least a dozen boroughs”.
According to HuffPost, new modelling shown to the mayor “suggests that London is no longer two weeks behind hotspots like the Northeast and greater Manchester”, but is instead just “two or three days behind”.
Indeed, data from Public Health England’s most recent watchlist indicates that London should already be under lockdown. The list shows that the authority in England with the lowest case rate per 100,000 that is still considered an “area of intervention” – the highest degree of concern – is Ribble Valley, with a rate of 18.3.
“But Kensington and Chelsea, Enfield and Southwark, among others, have infection rates higher than that,” says the Daily Mail, which reports that “Redbridge (34.2), Hounslow (32.5) and Barking and Dagenham (29.3) are the three worst-hit parts of the capital”.
The new data reveals that infection rates in a total of 20 London boroughs are higher than areas of England already hit by restrictions.
In his statement on Monday, Khan said that “without adequate testing or contact tracing in London, we have no choice but to look at other measures to slow the spread of the virus”. A “mayoral source” told HuffPost that such measures could “potentially prevent the need for a fuller lockdown like we saw in March, which could seriously damage the economy once again”.
So what are Khan’s proposals?
The mayor has reportedly suggested 15 measures to curb the outbreak in London, including the use of face masks in more settings, further restrictions on weddings and funerals, and encouraging more people to work from home.
Speaking to Sky News after meeting with council leaders and health experts on Monday, Khan also hinted that limitations on the times that bars and restaurants can be open, such as a 10pm curfew, should be brought in – a rule that is now set to be imposed nationwide, under measures being announced by Boris Johnson today.
The broadcaster adds that the London mayor has “suggested face masks could be used by all staff members and customers in hospitality under the potential restrictions”.
However, Khan said the new package of measures did not include more limitations on households mixing with each other, although there could be changes relating to the ban on social gatherings of more than six people.
“What we know in London, the way it’s spread in our city is different to how it’s spread in other parts of the country,” he explained.
As Khan prepares to fully outline his plans, he is urging the government to “learn from the mistakes of the first wave”.
In his statement yesterday, the mayor said: “I know that many Londoners, like me, will be deeply frustrated at the likelihood of imminent new restrictions. Londoners have shown incredible resolve by steadfastly following the rules and doing the right thing – at great cost.
“However, taking firm action now to prevent a deeper and longer lockdown in the future is without a doubt the best thing to both save lives, and protect jobs and our economic recovery.”