Dozens of London Underground stations are to be closed indefinitely amid a toughening of measures to try to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Transport for London (TfL) announced a series of changes late on Wednesday evening as it urged people in the capital not to travel if at all possible.
“People should not be travelling, by any means, unless they really, really have to,” said the mayor, Sadiq Khan. “Londoners should be avoiding social interaction unless absolutely necessary and that means they should be avoiding using the transport network unless absolutely necessary.”
As part of the measures, TfL said up to 40 tube stations that have no interchange, including St James’s Park, Hyde Park Corner and Covent Garden face being closed from Thursday onwards. The closures would be in effect for the foreseeable future.
It said the Waterloo and City line, which serves the capital’s financial district, would close altogether from Friday 20 March and that the 24-hour Friday and Saturday night tube service, as well as the night Overground trains, would cease to operate from this weekend. Transport bosses said late services on each would still run but were intended for essential travel only.
TfL said it planned to gradually reduce the capacity across the network from the following Monday as it sought to focus on providing a service for critical workers. That included London buses, which TfL would begin to operate a “service similar to a Saturday”.
Khan added: “London will get through these extraordinarily challenging times and ensuring the capital’s critical workers can move around the city will be crucial. Frontline staff across our health and care service – as well as those ensuring Londoners stay safe and can access food and other essentials – should be commended for their hard work. We owe it to them to do whatever we can to help them do their jobs effectively.
“I’m urging Londoners to only use public transport for essential journeys. Everyone should follow this and the other advice to help keep themselves and each other safe.”
London’s transport commissioner, Mike Brown, said: “The advice from government is clear: people should now only be making journeys that are absolutely essential. We and our staff are doing everything we can to ensure that people who need to make essential journeys can continue to do so.
“Everyone should follow the advice of Public Health England to ensure they are doing everything they can to stay safe and limit the spread of the virus.”
TfL said the following stations faced closure:
Great Portland Street
St James’s Park
St John’s Wood
Hyde Park Corner