London will move to 'high alert'

London will be moved to Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions from midnight on Friday, MPs in the capital have been told, putting around nine million people under new, tighter restrictions. 

Rates are nudging towards the 100 per 100,000 trigger point and there will now be a ban on different households meeting indoors.

However there is a lot of variation across the capital, and there has been some push to have alternatives including the suggestion of a "doughnut", which would protect central London, or that it be targeted at areas where rates are highest, mostly in East London.

It is thought that the practicalities of enforcing this meant it had been ruled out in favor of the city-wide approach, something which London Councils and Mayor Sadiq Khan backed. 

London MPs took part in a Zoom call with junior health minister Helen Whately at 9:30am this morning, where they were told of the plans.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock will address parliament at around 1030 GMT: he is expected to announce changes to the government’s patchwork of three-tier local lockdowns.

London and Manchester are in focus as the outbreak spreads.

Asked on Sky News if Manchester and parts of Lancashire county would be placed into tier three, the highest level of local lockdown, junior business minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Matt Hancock is going to make a statement to parliament as to where we are at but you can clearly see the numbers.”

Zahawi said the government was also speaking to London Mayor Sadiq Khan who has called for tougher lockdowns in the capital where 11 boroughs are seeing more than 100 new cases a week per 100,000 people.

The worst-hit areas of London are Richmond, Hackney, the City of London, Ealing, Redbridge, and Harrow. The British capital, Europe’s richest city, is currently at the “medium” alert level so could be moved to “high”.

In areas in the high alert level, socializing outside households or support bubbles is not allowed indoors though work can continue and schools continue to operate.

Manchester is currently at the “high” alert level so could be moved to “very high” - a level which forbids socializing forces pubs and bars to close, and prohibits travel outside the area.

While the government says it must act to tackle the swiftly accelerating second wave of the outbreak, there is growing concern about the economic and health costs of the poverty that such lockdowns are inflicting.

The United Kingdom faces a “period of destitution” in which families “can’t put shoes on” children, the government’s former homelessness adviser said.

“Are we actually asking people in places like Liverpool to go out and prostitute themselves, so that they could put food on the table?” Louise Casey told the BBC.

“There’s this sense from Downing Street and from Westminster that people will make do. Well, they weren’t coping before COVID,” she said.

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