Thursday 19 March 2020 12:29 pm

Coronavirus: 'Zero prospect' of ban on travel in and out of London, says Downing Street

Downing Street has said there is “zero prospect” of a ban on travel in and out of London, as part of efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

This morning Transport for London confirmed it was shutting 40 Tube stations. It will also stop Night Tube operations and close the Waterloo & City Line from tomorrow.

And it is cutting services on lines such as the DLR, London Overground, trams and TfL Rail, as well as operating a Saturday-style bus service.

But this morning the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said a full-blown London travel ban was not in the pipeline.

“There are no plans to close down the transport network in London and there is zero prospect of any restrictions in place of travelling in or out of London,” he said.

Military to support NHS coronavirus response

The spokesman also clarified the army’s involvement in the London coronavirus response.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace had said the government was putting an additional 10,000 military personnel at a higher readiness and placed Reserves on standby to support public services as part of a new “Covid Support Force”.

Troops are being brought in to support public services, for example, to drive oxygen tankers for the NHS.

But “maintaining public order is responsibility of police and there are no plans to use military for public order during the pandemic”, the spokesman said.

Emergency powers introduced

The spokesman said rumours that one person per household may be allowed to leave their homes during the London coronavirus outbreak is “not true”.

He pointed to emergency legislation being published today for details of what powers are being brought in.

There was however no comment on whether non-food shops will be asked to close in London amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“Legislation is time-limited for two years and not all of the measures will come into force immediately,” he added. “The bill allows four governments of the UK to switch on powers when needed and, crucially, switch them off again once they are no longer necessary.”