London Coronavirus Digest 19 March: Still no ‘lockdown’ measures (yet)

London Coronavirus Digest 19 March: Still no ‘lockdown’ measures (yet)

A spate of “London lockdown” speculation was finally addressed by Downing Street this morning, with a spokesperson saying there is “zero prospect” of restrictions on travel in and out of London. However…

  • Boris Johnson again declined to be drawn about forcing the closure of pubs, restaurants, theatres and other businesses as a way of slowing the spread of the virus. It was pointed out to him at his 5:00-ish press conference that more than half of the UK’s 29 corona-related deaths reported today were in London and he was asked about moving to “a more substantial lockdown” such as those operating in Italy, Spain and France, where even leaving your home is strictly regulated. He replied that there is “huge evidence” that Londoners are following the government’s social-distancing advice. along with “some evidence” that in “some parts of the capital” the desired response is “patchy”. Sterner measures are still not ruled out. But, like yesterday, that was as far as he went.
  • Following TfL’s announcement of its reduced service plans, including closing 40 Tube stations and the Waterloo & City Line, Sadiq Khan said at Mayor’s Question Time today that services are “likely to significantly reduce” beyond what has already been announced.
  • An anecdotal picture is forming of what school closures in London might mean in practice. Some schools will continue to look after significant numbers of students because those who are vulnerable and in receipt of special help will continue to attend along with those whose parents work in sectors vital to keeping London going over the coming weeks. And On London has learned that a senior teacher in one east London school has been told this provision will continue through the Easter holiday.
  • London Councils has called for further government help to prevent homelessness among Londoners from rising. The cross-party local authorities body has welcomed moves to prevent evictions of private renters, but is seeking a “rent guarantee” for those losing work because of COVID-19, higher local housing allowance entitlements for claimants, and additional guidance for coping with the virus among rough sleepers. Full details here.
  • London Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Richard Burge has written to the City of London asking the capital’s “financial and professional ecosystem” to increase lending to to London’s small and medium-sized businesses as they struggle to survive the economic damage being inflicted by the virus.
  • London Dairies has begun a “free, next day home deliveries service” to London postcodes addresses. They do fruit and veg as well.
  • Londonist has kicked off a London In Your Living Room service.

The photo above was taken in my local corner shop at lunchtime today. Just as very few people in London are wearing face masks, there are still plenty of shops with plenty of food in them. The worst is yet to come, but panicking is not going to help.

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