Conservative MPs urge Boris Johnson to get London out of lockdown as coronavirus cases fall

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  • November 6, 2020
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ory MPs are lobbying Boris Johnson to get London out of lockdown and into Tier 1 as official figures show Covid-19 cases falling in 21 boroughs, the Evening Standard reveals today.

They are urging No10 to dramatically ease restrictions in the capital if the virus is brought under control by the end of lockdown on December 2.

However, they also stressed that Londoners should follow lockdown rules to reduce infection levels and that hospitalisations were still rising, which will inevitably lead to more deaths in coming weeks.

The biggest drop was in Kingston, 29.4 per cent, then Kensington & Chelsea 24.6 per cent, Bromley 22.1 per cent and Southwark 21.9 per cent. 

It came as:

  • Business leaders warned of a devastating blow to London’s economy as a result of the new measures, whose fragile recovery from the spring lockdown has been shattered.
  • A probe continued into a leak of the lockdown plan, which highlighted tensions in the all-male “quad” of Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock running the Government’s Covid response. It came after Britain’s statistics watchdog criticised Number 10 for not being transparent enough with the data it used to justify England’s second lockdown.
  • Business minister Nadhim Zahawi was forced to defend the latest dismal figures on test-and-trace performance. James Naismith, professor of structural biology at Oxford, said the system was only reaching a fraction of the number of people who should be contacted, adding: “It hasn’t been effective at all.”
  • Doubts grew over the “moonshot” mass testing plan amid reports that the 20-minute tests have a level of accuracy as low as around 50 per cent and their use in Liverpool was being scaled back.
  • Professor Karol Sikora, chief medical officer at Rutherford Health private cancer clinics, said the decision to go into lockdown had been based on the “worst-case scenario rather than the reality” of Covid case numbers

Mr Zahawi told BBC Breakfast: “This intervention [the four-week England lockdown] will end on December 2. We will then review how well it is working. I think there are some good signs, early, cautious but good signs. If we all come together, do the right thing over the next four weeks, we can bring the R number down to 1 or below and go back to a tier system.”

Nickie Aiken, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said: “I’m urging ministers to seriously consider London returning to the lowest tier when lockdown ends on December 2 if our numbers continue to fall.”

Felicity Buchan, Tory MP for Kensington, stated: “I would like to see London spend the next four weeks getting the R rate and the cases per 100k lower so that London can come out of lockdown in December in Tier 1.”

Two boroughs, Bromley and Lewisham, have dropped below 100 new cases a week per 100,000 population, a trigger threshold which was used to move from Tier 1 into stricter Tier 2 measures.

Sir Bob Neill, MP for Bromley, said: “If it’s falling and that demonstrates a clear trend, they should consider taking London out earlier than December 2. If they don’t, on the evidence we have got so far, that would point towards us going into Tier 1.”

Hendon MP Matthew Offord said if cases continued to fall he would “make representations to the Government because many businesses can’t continue in lockdown for a longer period”.

( Getty Images )

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, Tory MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, said: “If over the next week, it shows we are really getting it under control, we should rethink the lockdown for the full four weeks.”

However, after rowdy scenes on Wednesday night on the eve of lockdown, MPs also urged people to stick to social distancing and self-isolation rules.

Some of the decline in cases is down to less people getting tested during half-term and a lag in reporting cases. Test positivity rates are still edging up, and there were also a record 2,669 in London on November 2.

But health chiefs are optimistic there is a real change in the trajectory of the disease which is now showing a slight dip in confirmed cases in older age groups, and a sharper fall in 20 to 29-year-olds.