The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, responds to the news that London is set to enter Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday.
The Government has decided to move London into Tier 3 from one minute past midnight on Wednesday morning.
This is incredibly disappointing for our businesses who have suffered so much already this year. But it’s clear that the virus is accelerating in the wrong direction once again across London and the lives of Londoners are at risk. It would be such a tragedy to lose even more people to this disease when the vaccine is now being rolled out across our city.
Read more: Tier 3 hits London – what you need to know
We know from bitter experience that when cases start to rise quickly, it’s much better to act early, rather than too late. This is how we can avoid even tougher restrictions, for longer, further down the road.
The worst thing for London’s businesses and our economy would be yet another full lockdown in the new year. That’s why I urge Londoners to follow the Tier 3 rules that the Government is putting in place very closely so that we can drive down infection rates as much as possible.
This means hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants are required by the Government to close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. You must continue not to meet other households indoors and to keep to the rule of six while outside.
I don’t want London to be in Tier 3 for a day longer than necessary. I am hugely concerned about the negative impact that the additional restrictions will have on jobs and many businesses that are already struggling to stay afloat.
More support needed
We now urgently need much more government support for the sectors of our economy that are being hit the hardest, including hospitality, culture, and leisure.
It is crucial that Ministers urgently put in place a compensation scheme for all lost income, based on last year’s returns, for any businesses affected by the further restrictions during this crucial festive period.
The Government must also cover the full cost of Statutory Sick Pay for workers who have to self-isolate, and make wearing face coverings mandatory in busy outdoor public spaces.
We have known from the outset of this pandemic that increased testing will be vital to getting the spread of the virus under control. That is why I have called on the Government to extend regular asymptomatic testing to all those unable to work from home and to London’s students and staff at secondary schools, sixth-form colleges and FE colleges.
It is essential that the Government ramps up testing in schools and colleges immediately as this is where the virus is spreading most. If this does not happen, Tier 3 will not only cause huge damage to our hospitality and cultural industries, but the virus will just continue to spread over Christmas at a time when families may well be meeting up and our NHS is under pressure.
Given the significant increase in infections among 10 to 19-year-olds – Government should consider asking secondary schools and colleges which don’t yet have testing facilities to close early and to reopen a bit later in January to allow time for weekly testing to be put in place.
The vaccine provides some light at the end of the tunnel, so let’s not fall at what could be the last hurdle. So I’d encourage all Londoners to adhere to the new Government rules so that we can save as many lives as possible, support our NHS and protect our economy.