Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wants to make face masks compulsory in all public places as part of a package of new measures to slow the spread of coronavirus in the capital.
Khan held an emergency meeting with local council leaders and public health experts on Monday to agree on a new plan to reverse the surge in cases – but he needs sign off from the prime minister first.
He said the measures include making everyone wear face coverings, not just on public transport and in shops, but in all public spaces and for staff in hospitality venues ‘where possible’. The mayor also reportedly wants restrictions on the number of those allowed to attend weddings and funerals.
The mayor is also urging Londoners to work from home – going against No 10’s return to work message – and avoid public transport as much as possible, as he warned that ‘this virus is spreading exponentially across all age groups.’
He said the 10pm curfew on hospitality venues, which is set to be formally announced tonight by the prime minister, is welcome but does not go far enough to curb rising transmission rates.
He told Sky News: ‘The time does not matter. There is nothing magic about 10pm or 11pm.
‘The issue is the amount of hours people are spending together where they could be asymptomatic and the virus passes on.
‘By the way, none of this would be a problem if there was proper testing taking place.’
Khan is set to speak to Boris Johnson this morning but has not been invited to attend Tuesday’s Cobra meeting with devolved nations to help with the next steps to tackle the pandemic. It will be the first one the PM has held in four months.
The mayor also said testing in London ‘is still a mess, as indeed it was back in March’ and has been left with ‘no choice’ but to implement tougher measures in the capital.
‘Without adequate testing or contact tracing in London we have no choice but to look at other measures to slow the spread of the virus,’ he said in a statement.
‘I firmly believe that acting early, rather than having to impose more stringest measures later, is the right thing to do both for public health and the economy.’
The PM is set to announce a 10pm curfew on all hospitality venues and a restriction to table service only, which would come into effect from Thursday.
Businesses that flout the ‘rule of six’ face being hit with a fine and forced to shut. The ‘enforcement blitzkrieg’ could also see groups of seven or more people broken up and hit with a financial penalty.
The coronavirus ‘alert level’ has been raised from level 3 to level 4 for the first time since June due to fears about the rising infection rate.
It remains unclear what new measures could be introduced in the coming days and weeks, but reports suggest the PM is considering a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ national lockdown and a ban on households mixing..
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