London government and other leaders have agreed a set of stepped-up measures to reverse the increase in Covid-19 infections and avert the capital being moved into the stricter Very High or Tier 3 level of restrictions next week.
Sadiq Khan has described the city as being at a “tipping point” and again urged Londoners to take responsibility for abiding by the current Tier 2 rules, stressing that a “we still have a long winter ahead of us”.
City Hall says the Mayor has been working closely with London’s local authorities, Public Health England, the NHS, the Metropolitan Police and others on, in particular, trying to “turn the tide” in the east London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, where case rates have been rising fastest.
There will be more community testing for the virus, delivered by means of additional mobile and fixed testing units, police officers drafted in from west and Central London boroughs and extra health message signage in retail areas.
Khan welcomed health secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement yesterday that mass testing is to be rolled out to secondary school students in the worst-hit parts of the capital along with neighbouring parts of Essex and Kent.
He also warned that a government-imposed shift to Tier 3 “would be catastrophic for our pubs, bars, restaurants and culture venues”, a message echoed by Camden Council leader Georgia Gould in her capacity as chair of cross-party body London Councils.
Yesterday, Ros Morgan, chief executive of the influential Heart of London Business Alliance, warned the government that “shutting down Central London the week before Christmas will have a hugely negative impact on already hard hit sectors.”
Responding to reports that being moved into Tier 3 appears inevitable, the London section of the Federation of Small Businesses expressed disappointment and said many of its members would struggle to survive into the New Year without “targeted support”.
Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, called on the government show that it is “willing to help their world city” to weather a looming “perfect storm” of Tier 3, Covid and the impacts of Brexit.
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