By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter
Londoners have been urged to keep visiting the city centre by the MP for the West End and the Square Mile, after the capital was placed in Tier 2 lockdown restrictions.
Nickie Aiken said: “While I appreciate the public health crisis we find ourselves in, I remain deeply concerned about the impact further lockdown will have on our capital’s hospitality, retail and leisure businesses.
“We must now urgently come up with a clear plan and timetable to get London back into Tier 1 as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Westminster council leader Rachael Robathan, who took over from Ms Aiken earlier this year, said on Twitter that “even tougher times” are ahead, and that an “army of volunteers” would be ready to help vulnerable people.
Tier 2 restrictions will begin across London’s 32 boroughs from midnight tonight.
The new measures include a ban on households mixing in all indoor settings, although support bubbles would still be permitted between people’s homes
The rule of six would continue to apply in gardens and other outdoor settings such as pub gardens.
Ms Aiken added that Londoners should keep using the London Underground, and that now was not the right time to discourage people from using public transport, as was the case before July 4.
“People need to come into town. At the time it (limiting public transport to essential journeys) was the right thing to do. I was on the Tube this morning. It’s fine,” said the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster.
Last week, Westminster council’s director of public health, Russell Styles, said he expected the advice on using public transport to change to essential-only once London’s overall infection rate passed 100 cases per 100,000.
Ms Aiken acknowledged the surprising fact that the borough of Westminster has had a lower infection rate than other neighbouring boroughs.
As of Wednesday evening its infection rate for the past seven days stood at 86.5 cases per 100,000 people.
She said: “Westminster’s infection rate is still under 100. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of days.
“The numbers have been consistently increasing over the last week. Some boroughs’ infection rates have tripled over the last week. It’s inevitable that it will go up in Westminster, no doubt.”
Westminster council has said it will speed up applications with a “presumption in favour” for pubs and restaurants wanting to put electric heaters, tables, chairs and umbrellas on pavements outside their premises.
The al fresco dining initiative, which has seen West End streets pedestrianised so that restaurants could put tables and chairs in roads, will end on October 31.
Pictured top: Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken has called for people to continue visiting the West End
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