Coronavirus spike sees London moved into Tier 3: What this means for you
- Credit: PA / Parliament
London will move into the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday as a result of soaring case rates.
Pubs and restaurants will be forced to close, though they will still be able to offer delivery and takeaway services.
MPs briefed on the plans said a sharp rise in cases meant Health Secretary Matt Hancock was unable to wait until the scheduled review of England's tiers on December 16.
The latest government data reveals almost 24,000 confirmed cases in London inside a week. The rate of new cases is rising in every borough.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the number of cases involving the new variant was "increasing rapidly".
Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants, he said.
"We've currently identified over 1,000 cases with this variant predominantly in the south of England although cases have been identified in nearly 60 different local authority areas."
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Following the virtual briefing, Labour’s Catherine West, who represents Hornsey and Wood Green, said she was disappointed by the government's handling of coronavirus cases in London.
She said: “Despite having the whole of the summer and the period in which London was in lockdown, the government appears to have yet again failed to tackle the issue of isolating those with coronavirus from the majority of the population that does not have coronavirus and therefore the blunt tool of lockdown may have to be used again.
“With the case rate doubling every four days and with the incompetence of this government in getting the isolation strategy working I can’t see how we can keep our hospitals coping unless there is some kind of lockdown.”
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan previously warned Tier 3 restrictions would have a "catastrophic" economic impact. He said the announcement was "deeply disappointing" but added: "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."
What will change and what won't under Tier 3?
A move into Tier 3 means the capital will now be categorised as on 'very high alert' rather than 'high alert'.
The new rules will prevent the mixing of households indoors and in most outdoor places with the exception of support bubbles already in place.
In Tier 3 a maximum of six people will be able to meet outdoors in parks, sports courts and public gardens.
All hospitality venues will have to close with the exception of sales by takeaway, drive-through or delivery.
Retail and personal care businesses will remain open but indoor entertainment venues will have to shut.
Londoners should avoid travelling out of the areas where they live other than for necessary trips.
Hotels will have to close and overnight stays are not allowed under the higher restrictions unless necessary for work, education or similar reasons.
Group exercise activities and sports indoors should not take place, unless with household or bubble members.
Large events such as football matches will no longer be permitted until Tier 3 restrictions are lifted.
Indoor leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools will remain open and, there will be no further restrictions on weddings, funerals and places of worship.
Schools and other educational establishments will also remain open until they break up for the Christmas holidays and everyone who can work from home is asked to do so, as was the case in Tier 2.
People in the capital will have to wait for the government's next tier review on December 23, to see if restrictions will be eased before Christmas.