As many as 40 Tube stations are set to close today as London attempts to curb the spread of coronavirus across the capital.
Transport for London (TfL) announced the partial shutdown of the Tube late last night, warning passengers it will come into effect from this morning.
“Up to 40 London Underground stations that do not interchange with other lines will be closed until further notice,” TfL said. “Anyone who needs to make essential journeys should check www.tfl.gov.uk for live travel updates before they travel.”
It follows multiple government sources telling media including City A.M. that London faces a lockdown as Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempts to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Coronavirus cases have risen sharply in the capital in recent days. Yesterday more than 600 new Covid-19 infections were diagnosed in the UK, bringing the total to 2,626.
London coronavirus deaths mount
And London now counts 953 cases, while the south east has 285. A total of 34 people have died from coronavirus in the capital.
As a result TfL has urged people not to use public transport for anything other than essential journeys.
There will also be no Night Tube service for the foreseeable future, while bus services will also be reduced.
The Prime Minister hopes the restrictions on public transport will help reduce social contact, which experts say is key to protecting people.
Mayor tells Londoners not to use Tube
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who only last week had warned closing the Tube could make coronavirus worse, urged people not to use the Underground.
“Londoners should be avoiding social interaction unless absolutely necessary, and that means they should be avoiding using the transport network unless absolutely necessary,” Khan said.
“London will get through these extraordinarily challenging times, and ensuring the capital’s critical workers can move around the city will be crucial.
“We owe it to them to do whatever we can to help them do their jobs effectively.”
Which Tube services will close?
From Friday TfL will close the Waterloo & City line. And Night Tubes and east London’s Night Overground will no longer run on Fridays and Saturdays. From next week, London Overground, TfL Rail, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London Trams will close.
Late Tube and Overground trains will continue to run but on a much reduced service.
Earlier this week Johnson urged people to avoid pubs, clubs and restaurants in a sign the UK was ratcheting up its response to coronavirus.
TfL has warned it will take a £500m hit from the fall in passenger numbers due to coronavirus measures.
London faces coronavirus lockdown
Multiple sources have said Londoners could see all stores but food shops and pharmacies close in the capital. That would mirror measures taken in Italy and other European capitals to curb the outbreak.
The lockdown, which could include restrictions around travelling in and out of the capital, could arrive as soon as this weekend.
Johnson said earlier this week: “It’s important that Londoners now pay special attention to what we’re saying about non-essential contact and to take particularly seriously the advice about working from home and avoiding confined spaces such as pubs and restaurants.”