London to be placed into stricter Tier 2 lockdown from Saturday, government confirms

Watch: London to move into Tier 2 of lockdown system - millions to be banned from mixing indoors

Millions will be hit with tougher restrictions from Saturday – including a ban on households mixing indoors – as it was confirmed for areas including London, Essex and York will be placed into tier two coronavirus restrictions.

The restrictions mean households will be banned from mixing indoors, including in pubs. Businesses and venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no-one must mix indoors with anyone who they do not live with.

Speaking in the House of Commons, health secretary Matt Hancock said London, Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow in Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Erewash will move to the “high” COVID alert level from one minute past midnight on Saturday.

Hancock said the UK must take “firm and balanced” decisions to keep the virus under control. He added: “Things will get worse before they get better”.

Speaking about capital, Hancock said infection rates are on a “steep upward path” with the number of cases doubling every 10 days.

Commuters cross London Bridge, in central London, during morning rush hour after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a new three-tier system of alert levels for England following rising coronavirus cases and hospital admissions.
London faces tighter restrictions when it goes under Tier 2 restrictions. (PA)

“The seven-day average case rate stands today at 97 rising sharply. We know from the first peak, the infection can spread fast and put huge pressures on the NHS so we must act now to prevent the need for tougher measures later on,” he said.

“So working closely with the mayor, with cross-party council leadership, with local public health officials and the national team, we’ve together agreed that London needs to move to local Covid alert level high.”

The ban on households mixing indoors could be devastating for the capital’s 3,640 pubs and 7,556 restaurants – who will see business suffer but will not be eligible for Government support available to premises which have been ordered to close

What are the Tier 2 restrictions?

Those living under Tier 2 restrictions can meet with friends and family indoors in any setting if they live with them or have formed a support bubble with them. This includes private homes, and any other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants.

A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

Under Tier 2 – or high level – restrictions, businesses can continue to work if they are COVID-secure, and schools, universities and places of worship can remain open.

The 10pm curfew on specific food and drink outlets will remain, with takeaways still allowed after that time. Pubs do not have to close.

The maximum number of people who can meet is still six – but the key difference between tier two and the lower tier one restrictions is the ban on people meeting when they don’t live together.

Use of public transport is also discouraged, with commuters asked to walk or cycle if possible, or try and travel as quieter times.

Watch: How will England's three-tier local lockdown system work?

Decision based on ‘expert public health and scientific advice’

The move into higher restrictions was expected by mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who said earlier in the week that London would “likely” see restrictions soon.

On Thursday, Khan told the London Assembly that he expects the capital to be moved into the Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

He said: “Final conversations with ministers are ongoing around this as we meet – but I expect ministers to make an announcement to parliament later today.”

Khan the decision was based on “expert public health and scientific advice” about what is necessary to save lives in the city.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks to media at New Scotland Yard, London, following the death of a police officer who was shot by a detainee at Croydon Custody Centre in south London in the early hours of Friday morning.
London mayor Sadiq Khan called for more resources to bring numbers down. (PA)

“In addition to the restrictions already in place, this would mean different households in London not being allowed to mix indoors,” he said.

“Nobody wants to see more restrictions – but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners lives by myself, London council leaders and by ministers.”

Earlier he said the city was “fast approaching” 100 cases per 100,000.

“It is vital London has the resources to engage, explain, encourage and enforce heightened restriction and support compliance,” Khan said in a letter this week urging Boris Johnson to provide help for the capital if it enters higher restrictions.

Khan has written that “urgent action” is needed to “protect” people in London and “bring the virus under control”.

“Government must provide proper financial help to all businesses and vulnerable Londoners affected by restrictions, as well as local authorities who support them,” he stated.

“It is essential that no one should be faced with added financial hardship through redundancy or a loss of earnings, and is able to access benefits or crisis support straight away should they need to.

“We also need an immediate increase in testing capacity so that London’s testing rates can increase to the national average.”

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