Three hundred hotel rooms will be made available for rough sleepers to self isolate safely, Sadiq Khan has announced.
The Intercontinental Hotels Group rooms are now block-booked at a discounted rate for the next twelve weeks, with the first moves happening this weekend with support from outreach workers.
Cabbies and drivers from apps FreeNow and Gett have also volunteered transport to and from the rooms and homeless services.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “The coronavirus outbreak affects everyone in London and we must do all we can to safeguard everyone’s health – not least those Londoners who face spending each night sleeping rough on the capital’s streets.
“Rough sleepers already face difficult and uncertain lives and I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they, along with all Londoners, are given the best protection possible.”
St Mungo’s director of rough sleeping services, Petra Salva, said her teams were working “round the clock” during the crisis to try and keep the high-risk group safe. Many rough sleepers have a host of health conditions – including respiratory illnesses.
Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said: “London cabbies have always been there to help those in need, and this current crisis is no different.
“Black cabs are the right vehicles for this, designed to be easily cleaned and sterilised, with a partition separating passengers from drivers.
“I’m delighted so many black cab drivers have signed up, and that we are doing our bit to keep the most vulnerable people on our street safe.”
Only last autumn, around 1,100 people were recorded sleeping rough in London on a single night.
It is now more important than ever to help those #RoughSleeping to move away from the streets. If you see someone vulnerable, please contact @Tell_StreetLink via website, app or phone so an outreach team can help them: https://t.co/LzpcFXoTRx #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/dmqKOW75pC
— St Mungo's (@StMungos) March 22, 2020