London Added to National Covid-19 Watch List

No extra measures as yet but lockdown possible if cases continue to rise

London has been added to the national coronavirus watch list as an area of greatest concern, as infections rise in the capital.

There will be no new restrictions at present, but the change in status reflects higher risks in the city.

But it means the city could face a local lockdown if cases continue to climb. There were 620 infections confirmed in the last 24 hours.

The Mayor said London is at a “very worrying tipping point” as 111 calls and hospital admissions grow.

Some 620 cases of coronavirus were confirmed yesterday in the capital, but weekly testing numbers are down 43 per cent since mid-August.

And contact tracers are still struggling to reach those who could have the virus – with just 70 per cent reached in the best performing borough, Lambeth.

“Testing capacity was diverted away from London in the last two weeks to other national hot spots,” Mr Khan warned.

“The lack of testing capacity is totally unacceptable and it is why London has been added to the Government’s coronavirus watchlist as an area of concern.

“Ministers simply have to get a grip. It’s vital that testing capacity is increased immediately in London and focused in the areas it is needed most.

“Any delay will mean letting the city down and will cost lives.”

Mr Khan said London’s new high risk status showed new restrictions brought in nationally this week were “absolutely necessary”.

London Councils – the group representing all 33 local authorities in the city – said it was a “stark reminder” to residents that they must follow new rules.

The organisation called for a sustained boost to Covid-19 testing in the capital so infections can be monitored.

Green London Assembly member Caroline Russell said it was “disgraceful” that capacity has been insufficient.

“We can get through this, wearing our masks and keeping our distance but oh for some government competence,” she said in a Tweet.

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Wednesday:

  • Pubs, bars, and restaurants have a 10pm curfew.
  • Only table service is allowed.
  • Taxi drivers, waiters, bar staff and shop workers have to wear a mask.
  • Only 15 people can attend a wedding, down from 30.
  • Plans for fans to go back to sports matches are on hold.
  • People cannot meet with those outside their social bubble in groups of more than six.

Social distancing rules remain in place: everyone should stay two metres from others outside their household bubble, or use mitigations to reduce the risk, like keeping contact short and wearing a face mask.

Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter

September 25, 2020