High stakes meeting about London lockdown will be held next week

High stakes meeting about London lockdown will be held next week as Tube boss pleads with commuters to get back aboard trains as checks find no trace of coronavirus on Underground

  • Meeting to decide whether city should face restrictions like those in Liverpool 
  • Move likely to face opposition from businesses still reeling from last lockdown
  •  Transport Commissioner Andy Byford urged people to use Tube again
  • Tests by scientists have found it was clear of coronavirus

Londoners could find out of the capital is to be the latest city to be placed into lockdown next week – as its transport chief urged workers back onto the Tube network.

A high-stakes political meeting is due to take place to decide whether the city should face restrictions like those in Liverpool and Newcastle.

Any such moves are likely to face a sharp uproar from businesses still reeling from the last lockdown and last week’s decision to get people working from home again.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and councils in the capital have urged the Government to implement additional measures for Londoners, but so far no extra restrictions have been put in place by ministers. 

A spokesperson for Mr Khan warned last week that London was at a ‘very worrying tipping point’ and ‘immediate action’ was needed to regain control of the virus. 

It came as Transport Commissioner Andy Byford urged people to use the London Undergorund more, saying tests by scientists had found it was clear of coronavirus.

The system is running a full service but receiving only a third of regular passengers numbers.

Swab tests were carried out on escalators, smartcard readers and grab handles, plus buttons and handrails on buses by Imperial College researchers. 

Air samples were also taken at locations including Euston and Waterloo stations.

Mr Byford told the Evening Standard: ‘We are ready when you are ready. The system is safe. We encourage people to use it.’  

The system is running a full service but receiving only a third of regular passengers numbers

Andy Byford (left) wants perople back on the Tube. But Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs (right) has told households to stop mixing

Meanwhile residents of the borough of Tower Hamlets in east London are being advised to avoid visiting other households by the local council.

In an open letter, the borough’s mayor John Biggs asked those who live in the area to avoid visiting other households ‘unless absolutely necessary’ due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

Tower Hamlets’ rate for the seven days to September 28 was 44.0 cases per 100,000 people, up from 38.5 the previous week.

The proportion travelling to workplaces slipped from 64 per cent to 59 per cent, after the government’s guidance shifted to recommend doing it where possible

Coronaphobia is back: Just 20 per cent of adults said they had met another household in a private place last week, down from 30 per cent the previous week, an ONS survey shows 

Mr Biggs called the situation a ‘matter of life and death’ and said urgent action was required, adding that the borough had one of the highest levels of Covid-19 in London.

He wrote: ‘Despite a fall over the summer, we are seeing cases of Covid-19 rise and we need to accept that the situation is once again worsening.

‘Tower Hamlets now has one of the highest levels of Covid-19 in London.

‘As a second rise in infections hits us, we must take all steps necessary to limit the spread of the virus and protect those most at risk.’

He added: ‘I am clear that the current national rules are a minimum and my advice to you all is to do everything in your power to protect each other.

‘Our individual actions have consequences for us all.’

One in three Britons will be living under tougher Covid-19 rules than the rest of the country tomorrow, despite data showing local lockdowns don’t work in most places and that infection rates have actually risen.

From Saturday, two million residents in Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will be banned from meeting people they don’t live with indoors in a bid to curtail outbreaks there.

It will mean a total of 22.4million Brits will be living under some form of economically crippling and socially restricting local shutdown. Ministers have justified the measures by claiming they are the only way to stop a second national wave of the disease.

But data shows Covid-19 infections have doubled in the majority of areas in England that have been subject to long-term restrictions. In 11 out of 16 English cities and towns hit with lockdowns in the last nine weeks, the infection rate has risen at least two-fold and in some cases by more than 10 times.

In Bolton, Britain’s current Covid-19 hotspot, there were 200 infections per 100,000 in the last seven days, up from 14 per 100,000 on July 31. In Wigan cases have risen from seven per 100,000 people to 102 in the same period.  

Luton is the only area in the country which has successfully managed to drive down cases far enough to break free from the shackles of a local lockdown – but even the Bedfordshire town could be slapped with restrictions once again because cases have started to rebound.

Scientists, MPs and local leaders say adherence to the rules is low because they have been too ‘complex and confusing’ to follow. In Middlesbrough, the mayor Andy Preston said he would ‘defy the government’ and that his town would ‘not accept these measures’ because there was no evidence they would work.  

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