Coronavirus: Rough sleepers to be given beds in central London hotels to protect them against virus

Ellen Manning
·2-min read
London, England - March 27, 2016: Intercontinental Hotel, London O2
The Mayor of London's office is working with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) to block book rooms, at a discounted rate, for the next 12 weeks to house rough sleepers. (Picture: Getty)

Rough sleepers are set to be given beds in central London hotels to help protect them against coronavirus.

A trial was due to start this weekend offering 300 rooms to vulnerable people known to homelessness charities.

The Mayor of London’s office is working with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) to block book rooms at a discounted rate for the next 12 weeks in the hope that they will provide “vital protection” for rough sleepers who need to self-isolate.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 16: London Mayor Sadiq Khan arrives in Downing Street ahead of Government briefing on March 16, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Sadiq Khan's office is working with Intercontinental Hotels Group to provide rooms for rough sleepers. (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The coronavirus outbreak affects everyone in London and we must do all we can to safeguard everyone’s health – not least those Londoners who face spending each night sleeping rough on the capital’s streets.

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“Rough sleepers already face difficult and uncertain lives and I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they, along with all Londoners, are given the best protection possible.

“Together, as a city, we will come through this incredibly challenging period.”

Coronavirus cases in England ,how the map has changed in a week. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics
Coronavirus cases in England ,how the map has changed in a week. See story HEALTH Coronavirus. Infographic PA Graphics

Rough sleepers are more likely to have underlying health conditions – including respiratory problems – than the wider population.

They are also less likely to be able to follow Public Health England’s advice on self-isolation, social distancing and hand-washing.

The mayor’s office said it plans to continue to support a range of partners including London’s boroughs and the Ministry of Housing to identify and help other rough sleepers.

Petra Salva, director of rough sleeping services at St Mungo’s homeless charity, said teams are working round the clock to support people during the “unprecedented crisis.”