By S Neeraj Krishna
SADIQ KHAN has urged people to be “as cautious as possible” in the coming days, warning that local lockdown restrictions in London seemed “increasingly likely”.
The London mayor said he firmly believed the authorities “should not wait” to take action, noting the soaring infection rate in the capital.
His statements came as Boris Johnson on Friday (18) confirmed the UK was bracing for a second pandemic wave.
“There is no question, as I have said for several weeks now, that we could expect and are now seeing a second wave coming in,” the prime minister said.
“We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe — it is absolutely, I’m afraid, inevitable, that we will see it in this country.”
Asked about nationwide restrictions, Johnson said he did not want to “get into a second national lockdown at all”.
“When you look at what is happening, you’ve got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we brought in on Monday,” he added.
Taking note of the prime minister’s statements, Khan said: “Londoners should also know that I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence I’ve seen today from public health experts about the accelerating speed at which Covid-19 is now spreading here in London.
“It is increasingly likely that, in London, additional measures will soon be required to slow the spread of the virus.
“We will be considering some of the measures which have already been imposed in other parts of the UK.
“I am of the firm view that we should not wait, as happened six months ago, for this virus to again spiral out of control before taking action.”
As the prime minister had confirmed the “start of a second wave of Covid-19 across the UK”, Khan added, “the best thing for both public health and the economy is new restrictions imposed early, rather than a full lockdown when it’s too late”.
The London mayor also stressed that the “government must urgently ensure there is a fully functioning testing system”.
Khan also ruled out any possibility of holding London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display, which annually attracts tens of thousands of spectators.
“We simply can’t afford to have the numbers of people who congregate on New Year’s Eve congregating,” he told LBC radio.
The mayor added that his team was planning event that people could “enjoy in the comfort and safety of their living rooms on TV”.
To the public, Khan said: “I strongly urge all Londoners to be as cautious as possible over this weekend.
“Please think very carefully about your actions – strictly follow social distancing rules, regularly wash your hands and wear a face covering to help reduce the spread of the virus.”
Earlier in the day, the Office for National Statistics estimated that rate of new cases had doubled to 6,000 a day over the week to September 10.
Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle, meanwhile, cautioned that there were “clear signs” of the virus infecting people across all age groups, with a rise in hospital admissions of older people.
“This could be a warning of far worse things to come,” she added.
Reports said about 13.5 million people in the UK will face additional restrictions from Tuesday, with new curbs imposed on Lancashire, Merseyside, parts of West Yorkshire, the West Midlands and Cheshire.
Similar curbs were already in force in the north-west and north-east of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands.