An announcement on London being put into Tier 3 could be made as soon as today, Sadiq Khan has said.
The allocation of tiers was due to be reviewed on December 16 but Mr Khan said the situation in the capital means a decision might be taken sooner.
He said “it’s possible” that a decision will be made today “because we have seen over the last few days a big increase in the virus”.
The news comes amid reports that London could be put into the tougher Tier 3 lockdown as soon as midnight tonight. Matt Hancock is due to give a statement to the House of Commons at 3.30pm when measures could be announced.
With some boroughs recording more than twice the average case rate for England, public health experts believe the virus has taken hold again in the city, and the decision is clear. To areas in the North of the country that has endured months of tier-3-level restrictions, it will seem deeply unfair if the capital avoids the same measures.
Council leaders in London are alarmed at the rise in cases and some are pushing for a "tier three plus" regime with tougher restrictions than tier three on its own.
Government advisers were due to meet on 16 December to review the tiering decisions, as to whether London will be put into Tier 3, which would have enormous consequences for both Christmas shoppers, shops and hospitality, however, the continuous rise in cases may mean an earlier move to Tier 3.
Currently, from December 23 to December 27, you are allowed to form one exclusive Christmas bubble made up of people from no more than three households.
If you do form a Christmas bubble, you should not meet socially with friends and family you do not live within your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble. In all other settings, you should follow the local restrictions for whatever tier London is under. This means outside of your Christmas bubble you should continue following the tier rules as normal.
From December 28, the Christmas bubbles will no longer apply and you must follow the guidelines for the tier in your area.
Under the strictest Tier 3 rules, pubs and bars will have to close and for a city economy particularly reliant on pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues, while these can open in tier 2 if people eat food with alcohol, a move to the top tier means they can only provide takeaways.
The rules in London will remain the same unless it is upgraded to Tier 3, which are:
- You can meet in a group of up to six in outdoor spaces, such as parks, beaches or countryside
- You can't mix indoors, in private gardens or in most outdoor venues, except with your household or bubble
- Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must stay closed, except for delivery and takeaway
- Shops, gyms and personal care services (such as hairdressing) can stay open
- Indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys and cinemas must stay closed
- Sports fans cannot attend events in stadiums
- People are advised not to travel to and from Tier 3 areas
MPs from London and the surrounding areas are due to be briefed on figures which show the rate of infection is now doubling every four days. Downing Street sources stressed the fact that the final decision would be based not just on case rates, but on other factors including local NHS capacity.
The Prime Minister acknowledged London's high Covid-19 case rate, and he re-iterated that the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine would “gradually make a huge, huge difference”, but added "we’re not there yet" and "we can't afford to relax now".
Will you be forming a Christmas Bubble?