Sadiq Khan has urged the Prime Minister to put a support package in place for London, as he suggested the capital could enter the higher Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions this week.
The Mayor of London sought clarity on provisions made for businesses, support for vulnerable Londoners and test and trace efforts in the capital, including for those self-isolating.
In a letter to Boris Johnson, Mr Khan said that as the rate of infections in London was ‘fast approaching’ 100 cases per 100,000, it was ‘likely’ the capital would move to the next alert level as early as this week.
Moving from ‘medium’ up to ‘high’ would see the nine million people living in the capital banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said that a support package would be needed for lockdown London
‘It is vital London has the resources to engage, explain, encourage and enforce heightened restriction and support compliance,’ Mr Khan said in the letter.
‘One London borough has done some specific work to estimate the cost of providing that service for six months from November onward and it is £300k over and above the allocation that was recently made to councils for support to compliance.
‘I am aware that these are discussions that have taken place with other areas that have had restrictions in place and London government would expect to have those discussions as well.’
Infection rates appear to be rising all over London, reaching higher levels in the west
Richmond upon Thames, Hackney and City of London and Ealing have the highest infections
Mr Khan said the ‘unique circumstances’ of the capital must be reflected in the approach and support.
He added: ‘The capital was hit particularly hard during the first wave with many of our communities and particularly the BAME community, suffering disproportionately.
‘In addition, many families live in overcrowded accommodation and face high levels of homelessness and rough sleeping.
‘Our size and density present specific challenges, with the economic case for protecting businesses in the Central Activities Zone overwhelming.’
Among the requests, Mr Khan urged for clarity on what provisions would be made available for businesses, warning that hundreds of thousands of jobs remain at risk in the capital.
He said it was ‘critical’ that the Government resolves the funding position of Transport for London (TfL), urging a package for the network.
As well as seeking clarity on support for vulnerable Londoners, the mayor called for an immediate increase to testing capacity, as well as a ‘redoubling’ of efforts to ensure testing for staff and residents.
‘I will continue to urge Londoners to be vigilant, follow the rules and exercise caution,’ he said in the letter.
An average of 44 people are being admitted to hospitals across London every day. This compared to lows of five at the start of August, and almost 750 at the start of April
Cases are rising in London but this appears to only be in younger populations, based on hospital data
‘I accept that these new measures will impact on businesses and Londoners, but we have a joint responsibility to work together and do what we can to control this virus and save lives.’
The mayor has previously insisted London should move as a whole into higher restrictions despite variable rates across the capital.
Twelve London boroughs have seen Covid-19 infection rates tip the worrying threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 people.
Richmond upon Thames (140.4), Hackney and City of London (133.1) and Ealing (132.5) had the highest daily new cases per 100,000 people in the week to October 8, according to Government statistics. None of the 32 boroughs had tipped the threshold before now, according to separate Public Health England data.
Croydon (69.8), Bromley (67.1) and Sutton (64), all in the south, sit at the other end of the scale with the fewest new cases per day — but all of them have still seen a significant hike in infections over the past month.
The average coronavirus infection rate across London’s boroughs is 94.15 cases per 100,000 people, according to the most recent Department of Health data — the equivalent of nearly one person in every 1,000 in the last week.
However, London’s figures appear to be being skewed upwards by the inclusion in the data of infected students studying in other cities. In Richmond, the capital’s supposed hotspot, analysis shows that a quarter of positive cases in the borough since are actually in places including Manchester, Leeds, Exeter and Durham.
Of 212 cases recorded in Richmond since September 20, 49 were in other towns and cities.
The vast majority of these people were aged 17 to 21, suggesting they were students originally from London whose cases were recorded using their home address.
Yesterday Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, seemed to agree lockdown was coming.
She said: ‘We need to deal with this nasty virus, but I’m asking the Mayor to respond calmly and proportionately for the sake of our jobs, our livelihoods and our mental health.
‘Sadly it now looks inevitable that London is going into further lockdown, the Mayor has been lobbying for this for some time, even before the infection rate was increasing.
‘Let’s be in no doubt going into Tier Two will be devastating for businesses and people’s lives in the Capital.
‘Now we need an urgent and clear plan to show how London can turn things around and reopen as soon as it’s right to do so.’