Sadiq Khan has welcomed London’s emergence from national lockdown today with a tribute to the “monumental sacrifices of Londoners” and encouragement for them to give a “major boost” to “struggling shops and hospitality venues”, while warning that it remains “absolutely vital to follow the rules” if a further surge in Covid-19 infections is to be avoided.
The capital re-enters the government’s Tier 2 or High Alert status today, having spent 19 days in the category in the second half of October before the second national lockdown was imposed. High Alert is the middle of three levels of restrictions set by national government following a House of Commons vote last night.
Although the rules are a relaxation of restrictions, allowing allow shops and some hospitality venues to re-open, Londoners must still not socialise indoors with people they don’t live or share a support bubble with, and must continue to wear face covering when in shops and keep two metres away from other people when possible to do so. Bars and pubs are closed unless operating as restaurants and these must close at 11.00 pm. People should still work from home if they can.
The Mayor said that with “positive news about the vaccines on the way, there is a finally light at the end of the tunnel” and urged Londoners to “safely show their support for London’s high streets” when deciding where to shop in the lead up to Christmas. “They need our support more than ever,” he stressed.
Mayor Khan’s message comes against the backdrop of warnings that Central London’s hospitality sector faces “catastrophe” unless additional support is provided to businesses by the government. A collapse in footfall due to sharply increased home-working and the closure or limited operating freedoms of cultural venues has already led to companies going out of business.
Writing for On London at the weekend hotelier Tony Matharu of the Central London Alliance of businesses and representative bodies renewed appeals to national government for targeted “sector-specific” support, including an extension of the Business Rates holiday and VAT cut, targeted tax relief support for arts and culture and a pausing of the congestion charge.
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