From midnight on Friday London will be placed into a “tier 2 lockdown” which will effect millions of people and businesses. Care Minister Helen Whately told MPs that the capital is moving from “medium” to “high” risk.
Under tier 2 measures, mixing of households indoors not allowed, and the rule of six applies to private gardens and outdoor spaces – social distancing rules also apply.
Pubs and restaurants will remain open for now, but no mixing of households inside and 10pm curfew remains in place.
Speaking to the General London Assembly on Thursday, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said, “I must warn Londoners we have a difficult winter ahead.
“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.
“That’s why I’ll continue to call for a short, national circuit breaker. This could save thousands of live, drive the virus down to manageable levels and give the Government more time to finally get a grip on its failing track and trace system.”
Khan said he will renew his demands for additional financial help to support London businesses affected by the new restrictions.
He added, “We’re at a critical phase of our fight against the coronavirus in London.
“The virus is spreading rapidly in every corner of our city. We’ll soon reach an average of 100 cases per 100,000 people, with a significant number of boroughs already over that threshold.
“Hospital admissions are up, more patients are going to intensive care units, and, sadly, the number of Londoners dying every day is increasing every day.
“Nobody wants to see more restrictions but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners.
“As part of our discussions, I also made clear to the Government we need further financial support for London businesses, workers and public services as we face more restrictions.”
On Wednesday Khan said on Twitter, “Urgent action is needed to protect Londoners and bring the virus under control in our city… Government must provide proper financial help to all businesses and vulnerable Londoners affected by restrictions, as well as local authorities who support them.
“It is essential that no one should be faced with added financial hardship through redundancy or a loss of earnings, and is able to access benefits or crisis support straight away should they need to.
“We also need an immediate increase in testing capacity so that London’s testing rates can increase to the national average.”
Michael Lassman, London Regional Chair of the the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said, “I would like to pay tribute to our members and businesses across London who have been working tirelessly to ensure their businesses function in a COVID secure environment. It is now imperative that they are supported, in whichever tier they are placed, to survive these further lockdown restrictions.
“There is a clear need to control the virus as numbers infected and being hospitalised are going up at worrying levels. Government must take businesses with them on this journey with clear joined up messaging with local Government and the Mayor.
“We cannot play politics at this time as too many businesses are struggling, particularly in the hospitality sector who have gone above and beyond to demonstrate their covid-compliant operations. These businesses must be compensated in the short term if we are to see limited collateral damage in terms of job losses and business closures
“We have consistently highlighted that far too many are still excluded from the Government’s efforts to help business owners – not least company directors and the newly self-employed. A rescue package for such groups is urgently needed. Across London such measures are paramount as our businesses are put into stricter lockdown measures.
“The one thing that businesses need is certainty, particularly in an uncertain time and they need to be communicated with clearly so they can put plans in place”