October 25, 2020

Coronavirus: London 'to be added to national COVID-19 watchlist' as cases increase

September 25, 2020

London has been added to the national coronavirus watchlist, a group representing the capital's councils has said.

London Councils represents the capital's 32 boroughs and the City of London.

In a statement, the group said: "It is a stark reminder that now is time for all Londoners to pull together and take action to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe, and to ensure that London's economy is protected."

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "London is at a very worrying tipping point right now."

There are no additional measures in place for the capital at this stage.

He has asked the government for an immediate increase in testing capacity, warning delays will cost lives.

He said: "It's vital that testing capacity is increased immediately in London and focused in the areas it is needed most. Any delay will mean letting the city down and will cost lives."

London Councils echoed the Mayor's plea.

"It is welcome that that the city's testing capacity is boosted so that Londoners have timely access to Covid-19 tests and the government must ensure that this is sustained from now on," they said.

The group have also asked Londoners to abide by the new restrictions set out by Boris Johnson at the start of the week - including working from home where possible and keeping to the rule of six.

Prior to the PM's announcement there was an ongoing debate on whether added measures should be introduced to address rising COVID-19 rates in the city.

A spokesman for Sadiq Khan said the situation was "clearly worsening" and tougher restrictions were needed to "stop coronavirus spiralling out of control again".

He met with London Councils before calling on the PM to introduce curbs to slow the spread.

Today the Mayor pointed to a lack of testing capacity in the capital as the reason why it had become an area of concern.

He said: "the near collapse of test and trace and the resurgence of the virus means new measures to slow its spread were absolutely necessary.

"Testing capacity was diverted away from London in the last two weeks to other national hot spots and weekly testing numbers are now down 43 per cent in the capital since mid-August.

"The lack of testing capacity is totally unacceptable and it is why London has been added to the Government's coronavirus watchlist as an area of concern."

Meanwhile, Leeds is likely to face new restrictions from midnight in the fight against Covid-19, including a ban on households mixing, its city council leader has said.

Judith Blake said she expected Leeds will be made an "area of intervention", meaning "more household restrictions along the lines of those already in force across three of the West Yorkshire districts in Bradford, Kirkless and Calderdale".

She told reporters: "We expect them to come in from midnight."

The addition of Leeds' 793,000 population would take the number of people living under local restrictions to more than 16.2 million people across the UK.

Tom Riordan, chief executive of Leeds City Council, said: "What we are trying to do is give a simple message - you shouldn't really mix with other households."

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