Coronavirus: ‘We will infringe civil liberties to save lives,’ insists London mayor

Sadiq Khan tells Greater London Assembly: ‘We may move to a situation where we move from advice to bans’

Adam Forrest
Friday 20 March 2020 16:47
Comments
Coronavirus: Who should stay home and for how long?

The London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that strictly-enforced bans may be soon be needed in the capital to stop people from socialising and making unnecessary journeys during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Khan can said civil liberties might have to be “infringed” to protect public health, after admitting his concern that Londoners are still failing to follow the advice of government and health experts to stay away from pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants.

“The advice from the government is just advice,” said the mayor, giving evidence at the Greater London Assembly. “I think that provides a mixed message. It’s clearly not been clear enough. We may move to a situation where we move from advice to bans.”

Mr Khan said “our liberties and human rights need to be changed, curtailed, infringed, use whatever word you want,” if more draconian measures were needed to save lives.

Telling Londoners to “stop all non-essential use of public transport now,” the mayor suggested transport in the capital could be scaled back even further – although services would remain running for key workers performing critical roles.

Mr Khan was expected to hold talks with Boris Johnson and senior government officials on Thursday amid widespread speculation the capital could face stringent restrictions to combat the spread of disease.

Referring to the possibility of bringing in “tougher measures” at his press conference of Thursday, the prime minister said “nothing is ruled out”.

Shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti said on Thursday Labour will support fines for people who defy restrictions on movement, if any lockdown was introduced.

Asked if the opposition would back financial penalties for people who leave their homes without good reason – already coming into force in parts of France and Spain – Baroness Chakrabarti said: “If it becomes necessary and proportionate.”

Mr Khan told the assembly: “We are clearly still in the early phase of this crisis but the spread of the virus is at a more advanced stage in London than in other parts of the country.

“This means that further measures will need to be introduced at the point at which they will have the biggest effect. I can assure Londoners that this is under constant review by the experts.”

It has already been announced that up to 40 Transport for London (TfL) stations which do not interchange with other lines could be closed while the Waterloo and City line and Night Tube services will not run from Friday.

The mayor said: “I want to be clear now that the frequency of services is likely to continue to reduce, potentially very significantly, over the days and weeks ahead.

“We will do this in a way that makes sure essential workers can still get around and we will not reduce service levels so that the remaining trains and buses are crowded.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in