London Mayor Sadiq Khan has told Londoners who are being asked to make “monumental sacrifices” in the forthcoming local lockdown to “ignore Government politicians” who have flouted coronavirus rules.
The capital city is bracing for Tier 2 restrictions from Saturday, which means a ban on separate households mixing indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
On the day extra restrictions were announced for areas including London, Essex and areas of Yorkshire, it was also disclosed that MP Margaret Ferrier will face no further action from police after travelling between London and Glasgow following a positive coronavirus test.
When asked if he was worried about how a lack of compliance by Ms Ferrier, as well as by the Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, might affect the willingness of Londoners to make more sacrifices themselves, Mr Khan urged Londoners to “do the right thing for our city”.
He said: “I know from anecdotal experience, speaking to Londoners from all walks of life, but also from polling done by independent polling companies, that the way the Prime Minister’s chief adviser behaved led to people asking the question ‘why should I follow the rules when he isn’t?’.
“My advice to Londoners is to ignore what Government ministers do, or Government advisers do, or members of Parliament do.
“Do what is the right thing for our city and for your loved ones and for yourself.
“These restrictions are there because there are no good options, and this will slow down the spread of the virus, which means hopefully you not catching the virus, your loved one not catching the virus, and then not needing the NHS, which means the NHS can continue to treat patients who are non-Covid as well as those who have Covid.”
Mr Khan added that he hoped Tier 2 restrictions mean the NHS Nightingale hospital in the London ExCeL Centre will not need to be placed on standby, as has been done in Harrogate, Manchester and Sunderland, while Belfast’s coronavirus overspill hospital has reopened.
He said: “I spoke today to the NHS London team, and because of the brilliant work of the NHS we currently have sufficient capacity in the NHS both in terms of general admissions, but also in terms of intensive care units.
“We’re hoping because of these additional restrictions being brought in on Saturday first thing, there won’t be a need to open the Nightingale because Londoners will follow the new rules.”
On Thursday he also backed calls by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for a nationwide “circuit-breaker” lockdown, to give the Government time to “finally sort out the test, trace and isolate system”.
He told the PA news agency: “The Government, frankly speaking, has failed us as a country by not sorting out test, trace and isolate, despite the passage of six months.
“What they should be doing is speaking to colleagues in South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and elsewhere, who have sorted out, to learn from them what needs to be done.”
He has also written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging him to support businesses in the capital through the Tier 2 lockdown, by extending the furlough scheme, directing financial support to the sectors which have suffered the most, and extending the business rates holiday currently in place until March 2021 so that businesses can plan beyond then.