London could be on the brink of further lockdown restrictions as 12 boroughs in have seen coronavirus infection rates soar.
There are fears the capital could be hurtling towards tier 2 restrictions after it was revealed a number of areas had tipped the threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 people for the first time, MailOnline reports.
Richmond upon Thames has 140, Hackney and City of London have 133 and Ealing has 133 in the week to October 8, at the higher end of the scale.
Areas in the south, including Croydon (70), Bromley (67) and Sutton (64) have the lowest numbers of infections.
Visit our live blog for the latest updates Coronavirus news live
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is said to have briefed health chiefs about the move into the second ‘high’ tier – where people will be banned from mixing with other households indoors.
‘Discussions between city leaders and ministers are still ongoing but Londoners must be aware that a change in restrictions is increasingly likely and in very short order, based on the expert public health advice,’ a source close to the mayor told The Times.
‘London leaders are clear that we need increased support for businesses and workers and a clear pathway out of further restrictions.
‘They emphasised the urgent need for the Government to fix test-and-trace to give us more reliable data than we have.’
A meeting of the Joint Biosecurity Centre yesterday, chaired by health secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Chris Whitty, also recommended most of the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Midlands also be placed in tier 2.
An announcement could come as soon as tomorrow, but Downing Street declined to comment.
The average infection rate across the whole of London is 94.15 cases per 100,000 people, according to the most recent Department of Health data.
But London’s figures are apparently being skewed upwards by the inclusion of positive test results of students studying in other cities across the country.
A ‘data enrichment’ process reportedly means positive results from university cities like Leeds, Exeter, Manchester and Durham have been included in figures for London – and particularly in the hotspot Richmond.
Reports say 100 cases per 100,000 people is considered one of the thresholds for an area being moved into the second tier of lockdown, but ministers are also thought to consider a number of different statistics, including ones that show the speed of growth, hospitalisations and deaths.
Although cases have soared, data shows hospitalisations for Covid-19 in London have barely risen over the past month. The figure stands at around 300 whereas 5,000 infected patients were treated by NHS doctors in the capital during the first wave in April.
London is still well behind a number of areas in the North, where increased case numbers are beginning to translate into hospitalisations.
For example, a councillor warned yesterday that Liverpool’s intensive care wards are reportedly running at 95% capacity.
London is thought to be around four weeks behind the North West.
It comes after Mr Khan warned earlier in the week Londoners could be subject to further lockdown measures very soon after the city’s infection rate doubled in just two weeks.
Currently the city is in tier 1 of the lockdown system, which is observing the current lockdown rules of the ‘rule of six’ both indoors and outdoors.
Sorry, this video isn’t available any more.
A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: ‘The mayor met with London leaders today to examine the latest data on the spread of the virus in the city and to discuss the Government’s new national alert system.
‘The virus is now spreading very quickly in every corner of London. The number of cases is rapidly increasing and all the indicators we look at are moving in the wrong direction.
‘As of today, London is at “medium” in the Government’s new alert levels. However, Londoners should understand that this could change very quickly – potentially even this week.’
Anyone living in an area under tier two of the lockdown system will be prohibited from mixing with other households indoors, but mixing outside is allowed as long as the national ‘rule of six’ is observed.
People are also asked to only make essential journeys and not travel too far outside the area in which they live unless it is absolutely necessary.
Pubs and bars can remain open in tier two lockdown, with the 10pm curfew in place, as can all businesses that are able to operate in a Covid-secure way.
Schools, universities and places of worship can also remain open, while weddings and funerals can continue to go ahead with the current limits on guests – 15 currently for wedding receptions and up to 30 for a funeral.
Gyms can also remain open, while organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, as long as the ‘rule of six’ is followed.
Any areas where the infection rate continues to rise despite these restrictions may be put into tier 3 lockdown with harsher rules.
There are also reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson is working on plans for a short ‘circuit breaker’ national lockdown over the half-term break if the three-tier system fails.
Northern Ireland declared a four-week circuit breaker lockdown yesterday.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].
For more stories like this, check our news page.