Boris Johnson will announce today which tier London will fall into when the national lockdown ends in December, with Sadiq Khan predicting the city is heading for the new, tougher tier 2.
The new restrictions will be in place until March 2021, though regularly evaluated, until mass vaccinations have been rolled out across the country.
Although gyms would be open, and salons, pubs and restaurants in tier 2 could only serve sit-down meals, and in tier 3, just takeaways. Punters would also be given a bit more leeway on the curfew – with last orders ringing at 10am but a further hour allowed to finish their food and drinks.
A temporary relaxation will mean up to three households can come together to celebrate Christmas as a ‘bubble’ between 23-27 December; though SAGE scientists have advised the move is too risky and could mean ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ if household mixing undoes the hard work of the second lockdown.
Several Tory MPs have called for borough-by-borough tiers, to take into account the very different pictures across the city to other regions.
Whereas most boroughs do not have infection rates anywhere near as high as in the north or midlands, most borough were still seeing rising cases last week. However, the figures are not uniform. There are some markedly worse-hit areas. Havering, for example, has an infection rate three times higher than Southwark’s.
At the time of going to press, 38 new infections in Southwark had been identified through testing within the last 24 hours (on Tuesday, November 25), bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,564.
There are encouraging signs that London’s infection rates are slowing down and beginning to fall and hospitals have not been overwhelmed. Despite this, COVID-19 continues to put huge strain on the NHS during flu season, as the sheer number of admissions each day shows.
As of Tuesday, there were 1,489 COVID-19 patients in London hospitals, 253 of whom requiring ventilation. In the seven days up to November 19, an average of 173 people were being admitted to hospital due to COVID-19 every day in London.
Even if London does escape the toughest lockdown tiers next month, that does not mean the whole south-east is unscathed. New, worrying Coronavirus hotspots include East Sussex and Kent; where infections are rapidly rising.