London escapes further coronavirus restrictions – for now

By Jessie Mathewson, Local Democracy Reporter

London will not face new coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday, escaping new lockdown rules in the latest announcement from the Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson set out his new three tier system for local lockdown in the House of Commons this afternoon – with Liverpool moving straight to the highest level.

But there was no mention of London in the Prime Minister’s statement – despite rapidly rising cases.

Mr Johnson said the Government was still working with leaders in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, but did not mention discussions in the capital.

London will for now remain at tier one – known as medium alert – meaning only the existing restrictions, including the rule of six and 10pm curfew, will apply.

The city has been on the Covid-19 watch list for more than two weeks – there are now more than 130 cases per 100,000 in Richmond, the worst affected borough.

Cases rose in every London borough in the week to last Friday, sparking fears that the city could be moved immediately to tier two.

This high level alert would see all indoor mixing between households and support bubbles banned – although outdoor meetings will still be allowed, including in private gardens.

The third tier – known as very high alert – will see all pubs and bars close. The Government will work with local leaders and may impose stricter tailored measures.

This could see gyms, restaurants and casinos shut, among other businesses.

There will be more financial support for firms, workers and local councils in these areas – and the army will help support local services if needed.

But shops, schools and universities will always remain open in a tier three lockdown, the Prime Minister said.

Mr Johnson warned that Covid-19 cases have quadrupled in three weeks, and there are now more people in hospital with the virus than when Britain entered lockdown on March 23.

He said the Government cannot “let the virus rip” and is simplifying the local rules to make them easier to follow.

He said: “We must act to save lives and the evidence shows that in changing our behaviour and restricting the interactions between us we are saving lives.”

It comes after the Prime Minister held an emergency Cobra meeting this morning – which Sadiq Khan did not attend.

The Mayor attended Cobra earlier in the pandemic, but had no update from Mr Johnson ahead of today’s briefing, a City Hall source said.

The Mayor has been in regular contact with Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and has warned that new restrictions in London remain “highly likely” in the coming days.

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