London Mayor Sadiq Khan today warned it is ‘inevitable’ that London will be plunged into a Tier Two lockdown this week as he admits he wants every borough to face the same coronavirus restrictions.
The UK capital is currently ranked as a ‘medium’ risk zone in the Government’s three-tier system of local alerts for England, and was expected to remain there when the restrictions come into force tomorrow.
But the Mayor warned today that London will ‘inevitably’ be moved upwards ‘this week’, setting off alarm bells among hospitality chiefs who fear their businesses could go to the wall if a second shutdown ensues.
Mr Khan said the city will pass a ‘trigger point’ to enter the Tier Two restrictions in the ‘next few days’, and insisted London should move as a whole into higher restrictions despite variable rates across the capital.
‘All the indicators I have, hospital admissions, ICU occupancy, the numbers of older people with cases, the prevalence of the disease, the positivity are all going the wrong direction,’ he said. ‘Which means, I’m afraid, it’s inevitable over the course of the next few days London will have passed a trigger point to be in the second tier.’
‘We’re keen to go as one as we can see the complexities and the confusion caused by some boroughs having additional restrictions and other boroughs having less. Many Londoners work in one borough, live in another borough, study in another borough, go to a restaurant in another borough so we’re really keen to go as one city.’
It comes as hospitality chiefs warned that London‘s hotels, pubs and restaurants could be ‘decimated’ by new coronavirus restrictions if the capital is plunged into a second tier lockdown.
Liverpool yesterday became England’s first Tier Three coronavirus shutdown zone, which means pubs not serving food must shut from tomorrow under the new local lockdown rules.
Tier Two restrictions imposed in regions including Greater Manchester and Nottingham have cut off many hospitality venues from receiving bailout money under the Government’s furlough-style scheme.
Richard Corrigan, one of the West End’s best known restaurateurs, said many establishments were already ‘fighting’ to stay afloat and would not survive a second hospitality shutdown.
Guillaume Marly, Managing Director of London’s Hotel Café Royal, said a second lockdown would be ‘hugely detrimental to our industry’ and the ‘nail in the coffin for a vast amount of businesses’.
‘There has been an unacceptable lack of consideration and understanding for our industry as a whole and now is the time to show support,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels, which operates several properties in London, also criticised Government moves to plunge the capital into lockdown.
He told the newspaper: ‘We are of course disappointed to hear that there may be limitations put in place that would affect the hospitality industry once again. The safety of our staff and guests is paramount.’
In other coronavirus developments today:
- Britain recorded 13,972 coronavirus cases yesterday, a rise of 11 per cent on last Monday, and 50 deaths;
- Boris Johnson Johnson is braced for a backlash as MPs vote on the ‘Tiered’ coronavirus lockdown system;
- Poll found public does not believe the measures are tough enough and want the Government to go further;
- Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford is demanding the PM imposes a legal ban on people in high-infection areas in England travelling to Wales, threatening to enforce the rule unilaterally if he does not;
- The unemployment rate has risen to 4.5 per cent, with an 138,000 increase in June to August, after experts concluded data collection methodology was masking the scale of the problem;
- Labour leaders in the North demanded more cash handouts from the government to support lockdown and called the new furlough scheme ‘insufficient’.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan today warned it is ‘inevitable’ that London will be plunged into a Tier Two lockdown this week as he admits he wants every borough to face the same coronavirus restrictions
Britain recorded 13,972 new coronavirus cases yesterday, a rise of nearly 11 per cent on last Monday, and 50 deaths
The British Beer and Pub Association also warned that ‘thousands of local pubs and jobs will be lost for good’ and attacked the Government’s decision to disqualify pubs in a Tier Two lockdown from claiming cash.
Furious gym boss in Tier Three-hit Merseyside vows to REFUSE order to close saying lockdown rule will damage members’ ‘physical and mental’ health
Owners of a gym in Tier Three-hit Merseyside are going to refuse the government’s call to shut – as a leading exercise chain said they would consider taking legal action to stay open.
An open letter published online by Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, Thea Holden and their team at EmpoweredFit in Greasby, Wirral, say they should be supported.
The gym bosses say Boris Johnson‘s government have ignored studies showing exercise centres have very low transmission risks as well as suicide rates over mental health problems.
Their views were echoed by PureGym – who have seven in the area – who said they were ‘extremely disappointed’ by the Tories’ call.
Humphrey Cobbold, Chief Executive Officer, warned: ‘We will consider any and every course of action that can be taken to support our industry and members including recourse to legal processes if that is what it takes.’
It came as the Liverpool City Region became the first area to enter the very high alert level tier, spelling the closure of pubs, bars, betting shops, gyms, leisure centres and casinos.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘Singling out pubs for closure and further restrictions is simply the wrong decision and grossly unfair.
‘It’s why we are calling for a proportionate response to the virus based on tangible transmission evidence.
‘Public Health England figures released on Friday show hospitality was responsible for just 3 per cent of total transmissions. Where is the merit in closing pubs to combat the virus based on that information? Especially when they are providing a safe and regulated place for people to meet at.
‘Local lockdowns that close pubs will devastate our sector and the communities it serves.
And most pubs will struggle to sustain viable business under tier two with their trade being so heavily impacted. Thousands of local pubs and jobs will be lost for good.’
London is not expected to be in Tier Two immediately, but a spokeswoman for Sadiq Khan warned that could happen ‘this week’ after a conference call with borough leaders.
‘Londoners should understand that this could change very quickly — potentially even this week,’ the spokeswoman said.
Tier two restrictions are expected to be similar to rules currently in place in parts of the north east and north west, where indoor mixing of households is prohibited.
Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden and public outdoor spaces, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.
It comes as a senior minister today admitted lockdown will ‘probably’ have to get tougher after it was revealed Boris Johnson overruled SAGE demands for a national ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown three weeks ago.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick conceded the government is poised to ‘go further’ after the PM unveiled his new ‘Three Tier’ system of local restrictions — but only put Merseyside in the harshest category that will see pubs and bars shut.
Mr Jenrick pointed to high rates of infection in areas such as Greater Manchester and Nottingham, appealing for local leaders to agree terms to move up from Tier Two.
But he dismissed claims that the Government was not being ‘robust’ enough, after bombshell documents slipped out late last night showed its own scientific advisers wanted much more dramatic action.
The extraordinary spat emerged as Mr Johnson gathered his Cabinet for talks on the crisis, with infections threatening to spiral out of control again.
Mr Johnson defiantly insisted at a No10 press conference last night that he had no intention of imposing a UK-wide squeeze that would ‘shatter’ the economy.
Millions of people are covered by the two higher risk tiers in the government’s new system, with the rest of England under the Rule of Six and 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants
But minutes of a SAGE meeting from September 21 show that is exactly what the key group was suggesting.
It presented a shortlist of options including banning all indoor contact between households, closing bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, and hairdressers.
At the top of the list was the recommendation for a two or three week lockdown with draconian measures similar to those imposed earlier in the pandemic.
‘If this were as strict and well-adhered to as the restrictions in late May, this could put the epidemic back by approximately 28 days or more,’ the dossier said.
How England breaks down in new COVID tiers
TIER THREE – VERY HIGH RISK
Liverpool City Region
Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton
TIER TWO – HIGH RISK
Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East
Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham,
High Peak – the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s – Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North
Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley
Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield South
Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield
Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland
Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool
Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall
Leicester, Oadby and Wigston
Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City
TIER ONE – MEDIUM RISK
Rest of England
The rift had been on show at the Downing Street briefing, when chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned that the toughest Tier Three curbs in the new regime would not be ‘sufficient’ to control the virus.
He urged local authorities to use the ‘flexibility’ in the arrangements to impose even harsher measures.
Labour accused the Government of flouting its own mantra of ‘following the science’, while SAGE members broke cover to complain the new restrictions had come too late.
But in a round of interviews this morning, Mr Jenrick said ministers had to strike a ‘balance’. ‘We probably will need to go further,’ he said. ‘But we want to design these steps jointly between ourselves and local government.’
Regulations will be laid in the Commons tonight and voted on tomorrow. However, Mr Johnson faces strong Tory resistance to the announcements.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said he was ‘disappointed’ the region had been put into the second tier, claiming that the Government had ignored the views of local leaders.
In the Commons, the Prime Minister was faced with repeated pleas for the 10pm curfew to be reviewed and to trust people to exercise their own common sense rather than place curbs on their freedom.
Mr Street said the stricter measures for Birmingham and the West Midlands was ‘not something regional leaders supported, nor what I believed would be happening following extensive conversations over recent days’.
He added: ‘The most important change between our current restrictions and the new ones announced today is the ban on households mixing in hospitality venues.
‘This is something the latest local epidemiology does not support, and I am disappointed that the Government is pressing ahead with this despite the united view of local leaders.’
In Parliament, Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the influential backbench Tory 1922 Committee, questioned how Mr Johnson would prevent local restrictions becoming a ‘permanent state’.
Mr Johnson insisted the measures were kept ‘under constant review’.
Tory MP Philip Davies told Mr Johnson to ‘put his trust in the British people to act responsibly’ instead of ‘a constant blizzard of arbitrary rules which will only serve to collapse the economy and destroy businesses and jobs’.
Mr Johnson replied: ‘The best decision that individuals can make for themselves, for their families and for communities is to follow the guidance, wash your hands, face, space, protect the NHS and save lives.’
Conservative Mark Pawsey (Rugby) said the 10pm curfew led to many people ‘leaving the pub to go to a shop to stock up with booze, often with their friends, to drink at home’.
And former minister Tobias Ellwood called for the curfew to be reviewed ‘as urgently as possible’.
Mr Johnson replied: ‘Alas, we have to make restrictions in the overall volume of transmission that is taking place in our society. That is an obvious place to make a difference, that is what we’re doing.’
Earlier, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam and NHS medical director Stephen Powis were sent out to ‘roll the pitch’ by setting out their grim assessment of the situation.
They told a briefing in Downing Street that the number of patients in hospital was now higher than before the blanket lockdown was imposed in March – and could be above the previous peak within four weeks. Nightingale hospitals in the worst affected areas are being put on high readiness to reopen.
Professor Van-Tam also delivered a stark message that the surge in cases was a ‘nationwide phenomenon’ rather than just in the North, and was spreading from younger people to the more vulnerable old generation.
Prof Powis said the hope that the elderly could be isolated from the increase in infections was proving to be ‘wishful thinking’.
Life in three-tier Britain: All your questions answered on restrictions for Medium, High and Very High risk areas
The Prime Minister today divide the country into ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ coronavirus alert sectors amid a tightening of lockdown rules that could last until Christmas.
The three-tier system comes after a 9.3 percent increase in cases on the previous week, with parts of northern England having the worst rates of infection.
Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam and NHS medical director Stephen Powis told a briefing in Downing Street this morning that the number of patients in hospital was now higher than before the blanket lockdown was imposed in March – and could be above the previous peak within four weeks.
Professor Van-Tam also delivered a stark message that the surge in cases was spreading from younger people to the more vulnerable old generation.
And Prof Powys said the hope that the elderly could be isolated from the increase in infections was proving to be ‘wishful thinking’.
Here MailOnline outlines what the tiers mean and who they could affect:
Tier one restrictions are believed to mirror those already in place across England.
These include the rule of six, a 10pm curfew, group sport to be played outdoors only and a maximum of 15 guests at wedding ceremonies.
Tier two restrictions are expected to be similar to rules currently in place in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, where indoor mixing of households is prohibited.
Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.
Locals will only be allowed out of their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.
Overnight stays by those from outside of these ‘high risk’ areas will also be banned, The Sun reports.
Households are expected to be told not to mix either indoors or outdoors.
From 5pm on Wednesday, hundreds of pubs in the northwest will be closed, The Telegraph reports.
Restaurants will be limited to takeaway services only, the BBC says, and bookies, casinos, gyms, beauty salons and hairdressers could all be shut.
It is believed that these measures will be imposed for four weeks before they are reviewed.
If a business is closed due to third tier restrictions, the Government will pay two thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month under plans set out by Rishi Sunak last Thursday.
WHO IS GOING INTO TIER THREE LOCKDOWN?
The Government has not yet confirmed revealed which areas will go into the strictest lockdown.
But politicians inLiverpool said they expected to be put in Tier Three, subject to the most draconian restrictions, including shutting pubs and banning households from mixing from 5pm on Wednesday.
Other parts of the North West including Manchester could follow. Dr Jane Eddleston, medical lead in Greater Manchester, told the briefing: ‘The North West has about 40 per cent of all Covid cases at the moment and this is proving very challenging for us.
‘Within Greater Manchester, we have seen a threefold increase in the number of patients admitted to intensive care in the last five weeks and an eightfold increase in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals.
‘The situation at the moment is that 30 per cent of our critical care beds are taken up with patients with Covid and this is starting to impact on the services we provide for other patients.’
The decision will be based on the rate of infection.
Nottingham leads in England, with 2,763 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 8 – the equivalent of 830.0 cases per 100,000 people.
This is a huge jump from 314.5 per 100,000 in the seven days to October 1.
Nottingham City Council expects a local lockdown to be imposed on Monday, with councils in the area asking residents to not mix with people outside of their households or bubbles.
Knowsley has the second highest rate, which has climbed from 485.9 to 669.5, with 1,010 new cases.
Neighbouring Liverpool is in third place, where the rate has increased from 504.4 to 598.5, with 2,981 new cases.
Other areas recording big jumps in their seven-day rates which may lead to restrictions include West Lancashire (up from 217.8 to 398.1, with 455 new cases); Exeter (up from 229.8 to 380.5, with 500 new cases); Blackburn with Darwen (up from 208.4 to 355.4, with 532 new cases); and Broxtowe (up from 115.8 to 265.7, with 303 new cases).
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Government’s COBR committee this morning to finalise the scheme, and will give a statement in the Commons at around 3.30pm
In a statement today, seven local leaders from Merseyside including Metro mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool City mayor Joe Anderson said they had been told pubs, bars, betting shops, casinos, adult gaming centres and gyms would all have to close.
They said that they had made clear the support on offer – including the job support scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak for the Government to pay up to two thirds of the salaries of staff in businesses ordered to close – was inadequate.
Mr Rotheram said there was little they could do to challenge the decision, but that discussions had been continuing through the night on an improved support package.
‘We were told we were going into Tier 3, no ifs, no buts. We can either expend energy on that or we can try and get a better deal,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
‘Some people like to shout at the wind but if they can’t change the direction of the wind it is important to shield people from its effects.’
Mr Anderson said on Twitter that leaders had been told restaurants would not have to close under the new restrictions.
He said: ‘To be clear the Government agreed with CA leaders and me that restaurants can continue to stay open across the city and region till 10.30 pm.’
In Manchester, City Council leader Sir Richard Leese said local leaders were still in discussions with the Government as to what restrictions should apply in the area.
Despite high levels of infections, he said they had made the case that Greater Manchester should be placed in Tier 2 as there was little evidence that pubs and bars had been responsible for the spread of the disease in the area.
‘They have not been able to show us any data that connects bars and pubs in Greater Manchester with transmission of the Covid-19 virus. They have not been able to provide any evidence that closing them down will work,’ he told the Today programme.
‘We have far more finely-grained data collected by our own directors of public health that seems to demonstrate that there is not a particular connection between bars and restaurants and the transmission of Covid.’
This evening Mr Johnson will host a press conference at Downing Street where he will be joined by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.
Downing Street said MPs will be asked to debate and vote on the three-tier measures next week.
WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN?
Many of the local political leaders in the areas likely to face the harshest restrictions were in discussions with the Government over the extent of the lockdown and financial support available.
They fear that Rishi Sunak’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) upgrade announced last week to cover 67 per cent of wages will not be enough and want something closer to the 80 per cent paid out by the soon-to-end furlough programme.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden denied that ministers had been ‘panicked’ into imposing economically damaging new measures at a time when deaths from Covid-19 were relatively low compared to the start of the pandemic.
While he said that he hoped controls would be able to be eased, he acknowledged that they may be required to remain in place until Christmas and beyond.
‘The purpose of doing this is to ensure we get the virus under control so by the time that we get through to after Christmas we are in that position where it is under control,’ he told Sky News.
‘Indeed I hope it will be sooner than that.’
St Helens Council leader David Baines said the level of restrictions and the detail of businesses which would be forced to close were ‘not up for negotiation’ with the Government.
In a statement, he said: ‘Government had decided this already and were adamant that they wanted to keep education, retail and the majority of workplaces open, giving us the indication that all other settings were chosen for closure by default.
‘There is no scientific evidence we have been given that shows the areas told to close are a higher risk than others.
‘We still do not know the full list of businesses and settings that will be told to close.
‘It was suggested in one call with senior Government officials at the weekend that pubs that serve ”substantial meals” may be allowed to stay open, but I can’t confirm this.’
He said leaders had asked for details on the thresholds for each tier but no details had been given so far.
Meanwhile, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, has started legal proceedings to challenge the lockdown of hospitality and entertainment venues.
Mr Dowden made clear the Government would resist any legal action, insisting ministers were supported by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
‘We know there are challenges around hospitality – for example, the obvious point you can’t wear a mask when you are sat down and eating, that frequently you are in contact with people that you don’t normally meet, and we know that the virus thrives on that kind of social interaction,’ he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
He said the Government had to act now amid clear evidence the disease was on the rise again.