Mayor Sadiq Khan has sent a stark warning to London, telling people they face a “dark winter” as Tier 2 restrictions banning household mixing are placed on the capital.
People will still be able to meet in groups of six from outside their household in outdoor areas, while the 10pm hospitality curfew will remain in place.
Khan said the measures were necessary and people in the capital could not “bury their heads in the sand”.
“The virus is spreading rapidly in every corner of our city,” he said.
“Nobody wants to see more restrictions, but this has been deemed necessary to protect London by myself, London council leaders and ministers.”
Millions of Londoners will face the harsher measures from Saturday, with a ban on households mixing indoors, local MPs have been told.
It’s understood ministers are being briefed over the new measures in a call with health minister Helen Whately.
The mayor also echoed the statement of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer by calling for a two to three-week national lockdown.
“Given how far the virus has already been allowed to spread and the government’s complete failure to get a test, trace and isolate system in place I think we need to work at a national scale,” he said.
“I’ll call for a very short national circuit breaker…this could save thousands of lives, drive the virus down to manageable levels and finally give the government time to get a grip on its failing test and trace system.”
Cases in London have now reached 100 cases per 100,000 people, which has been the threshold for most other cities placed in Tier 2 restrictions this week.
Cases are currently doubling every week, with Ealing, Richmond and Hackney the worst affected boroughs.
Tory Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken urged the government to provide more economic support to businesses that are affected by Tier 2 restrictions.
“Whilst I appreciate the public health crisis we find ourselves in, I remain deeply concerned about the impact further lockdown will have on the Capital’s hospitality, leisure and retail businesses,” he said.
“We must now urgently come up with a clear plan and timetable to get London back into Tier 1, as soon as it is right to do so.
“Many of our businesses are already on their knees, and I urge the government to consider further support before they disappear for good.”
If London is moved up to Tier 3 restrictions, as Liverpool was yesterday, then household mixing will be banned in all settings.
All pubs and bars that do not serve “substantial meals” with alcohol will also be shuttered.
However, being put into Tier 3 also means extra government support for businesses including being able to access a revised version of the furlough scheme.
Jasmine Whitbread, chief of lobby group London First, said the government had to get its track and trace system working properly to prevent an endless cycle of Covid lockdowns.
“If tough action now means we can save lives and avoid a more severe lockdown later, then businesses in the capital will hope that these short-term measures will prevent worse to come,” she said.
“But for firms just starting to get back on their feet, these further restrictions will come as a severe blow. Transparency over how any measures are expected to reduce transmission and when they will be lifted as rates fall will be crucial for building confidence.”