Coronavirus: Tier 3 would be ‘catastrophic’ for London, warns mayor as cases rise

‘We are keen to make sure we stay in Tier 2,’ says mayor Sadiq Khan

Peter Stubley
Monday 07 December 2020 19:38 GMT
Sadiq Khan says going into Tier 3 would be 'catastrophic' for London businesses hit by pandemic

Sadiq Khan has warned that Tier 3 would be "catastrophic" for London amid fears the capital could be placed under tougher coronavirus restrictions next week.

The mayor urged Christmas shoppers to follow the rules to prevent cases surging in the days leading up to the government's review of the measures applying to the capital on 16 December.

It comes after the number of new cases in the city rose slightly during the last week of the national lockdown, with a rate of 164 cases per 100,000 population in the week to 1 December compared to 159 the previous week.

The latest estimate of the R number, or reproduction number, of the virus is also higher in London than most regions of the country, at between 0.9 and 1.1. The R number for England as a whole stands at 0.8 to 1.0.

However the rate of new cases differs widely across the capital's 32 boroughs and the City of London. Havering has the highest rate, at 346 per 100,000 people in the seven days to 3 December, putting it in the top ten local authorities in England, while Richmond has the lowest at 80.3.

By comparison the areas currently in Tier 3 include Blackburn, with a rate of 277.2 according to the latest data, Slough (241), Dudley (209), Sunderland (160.2), and Blackpool (134.8). The only areas in Tier 1 are Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (25.5) and Isle of Wight (19.8).

Concerns were raised about the lack of masks and social distancing among the crowds flooding Oxford Street and Regent Street on Saturday to make the most of non-essential shops reopening under Tier 2 from 2 December. Police made four arrests after hundreds of people tried to get into Harrods department store.  

On Monday the mayor of London urged the public to "shop safely" so that the city stays in Tier 2.

"It is really important people follow the rules," Mr Khan told Sky News. "What none of us want to do is undo all the progress made over the last few months. What we can't afford to happen... is people who are shopping not following the rules leading to an increase in this virus spreading.

"We can’t act in a way that inadvertently leads to a surge in this virus."

Mr Khan added: "If London was to go into Tier 3 it would be catastrophic to those industries already really crippled under the Covid pandemic, that could mean many shops going bust, many bars, pubs and restaurants going bust.

"We are keen to make sure we stay in Tier 2. Tier 2 as well has many challenges for us but it is really important that Londoners continue to make the sacrifices they have done. Nobody wants London to go into Tier 3, or even the country to go into a third national lockdown."

The mayor said that while London does currently have "spare headroom" in its hospitals, January would be the "toughest month" for the NHS.  

Mr Khan has also urged the government to offer more financial support after warning that London's economic output could fall by £44bn this year and the loss of a further 350,000 jobs in 2021.

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