London‘s economy could face a ‘killer blow’ should it be plunged into Tier 3 next week, business leaders have said, as a new Covid-19 spike was blamed on prison outbreaks.
A decision on whether the capital will enter the toughest level of coronavirus restrictions is due on Wednesday, with any confirmed changes set to come into force on December 19.
London has experienced a surge in infections in recent weeks – with the case rate per 100,000 people at 191.8 on December 6 compared to 158.1 the previous week.
Experts and jail insiders are said to believe Covid-19 outbreaks in nearby Kent prisons may have been a ‘catalyst’ for London’s rise in cases, The Telegraph reported.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan previously said the capital could face harsher restrictions if the current rules aren’t followed, adding: ‘None of us want London to move into Tier 3.’
Business insiders have since issued a stark warning that a move into Tier 3 could deliver a ‘killer blow that many hospitality businesses simply wouldn’t recover from.’
London’s economy could face a ‘killer blow’ should it be plunged into Tier 3 next week, business leaders have said, as a new Covid-19 spike was blamed on prison outbreaks. Pictured: Oxford Street today
Speaking to the Guardian, chief executive of UKHospitality Kate Nicholls said: ‘Hospitality has continued to take on a disproportionate burden to allow other parts of the economy to reopen during this crisis.
‘The prospect of London moving into Tier 3 would deliver a killer blow that many hospitality businesses simply wouldn’t recover from.
‘The increase in infections that are being reported in London boroughs are also not a result of the recent reopening of the hospitality sector, as we know due to the incubation period of the disease. Consequently, any harsher restrictions placed on the capital’s hospitality sector would have questionable effect on reducing transmission whilst plunging the sector into an even deeper crisis.’
Last night, the Government was warned to think hard about the ‘devastating effect’ coronavirus restrictions could have on the hospitality industry as London teetered on the brink of Tier 3.
Covid-19 cases rose in 28 of London’s 32 boroughs in the most recent seven-day period, with Havering recording the highest incidence at 389 infections per 100,000 people.
Pictured: Christmas shoppers take to Oxford Street in London today as scientists warn Britons to ‘rethink’ their festive plans
A decision on whether the capital will enter the toughest level of coronavirus restrictions is due on Wednesday, before any changes would come into force on December 19. Pictured: Shoppers in London today
Pictured: HM Prison Swaleside in Sheerness, Kent. Swale has the highest rate of Covid in England, with 624 cases per 100,000 people
Weekly Public Health England data show that many areas in London, East and South East have seen infection rates rise since the lockdown ended and could face Tier Three rules from next week
A total of 481,500 patients had coronavirus in the seven days up to December 5, down from 521,300 the week prior (8 per cent), according to estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
It is followed by Barking and Dagenham, at 319.9 and Waltham Forest at 313.7.
During the most recent week, cases roses most quickly in Hackney – going from 129.62 to 195.98 (51 per cent) – and the northern boroughs of Enfield (163.57 to 243.56) and Haringey (141.08 to 208.82).
Teenagers have been blamed for the huge uptick in cases, prompting a mass testing programme to be rolled out in secondary schools in the worst-hit boroughs.
MPs were briefed on Thursday night to ‘expect the worse’ after a surveillance survey by PHE revealed that the capital now had the highest rate of coronavirus infections in England.
It is understood many MPs representing constituencies in the capital are poised to lobby Prime Minister Boris Johnson to keep it in Tier 2.
They believe the death rates in London are comparatively low and the NHS is able to cope.
A move to Tier 3 would be devastating for the pubs, restaurants and shopping sectors, especially so soon after the second national lockdown.
Ms Nicholls added: ‘The impact of the restrictions on the hospitality sector has been so severe that it has effectively halved the country’s economic growth. Ours is the only sector seeing real negative growth.
‘The restrictions being placed on us are having a devastating effect and go well beyond anything being experienced in other sectors.
Pictured: People wait outside a Zara store on Oxford Street, London before it had opened this morning
Pictured: Shoppers venture to Oxford Street for Christmas shopping early today as London teeters on the brink of Tier 3
The case rate per 100,000 people in the capital stood at 191.8 on December 6, up from 158.1 the previous week
‘The frightening reality is that these figures are going to look tame compared to those for November and December when the lockdown was in effect and as the new, harsher tier system began to bite.’
According to The Telegraph, experts and jail insiders believe London’s coronavirus outbreak could have been partly fuelled by prisons in Kent.
The newspaper pointed to how four of the top five areas with the highest infection rates in England – which sits on a commuting corridor to south-east London – are centred around the Kent borough of Swale and the Isle of Sheppey, where there are three prisons.
Pictured: Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality
One of those jails had one of the largest prison outbreaks of Covid-19 this autumn.
It comes as London Mayor Sadiq Khan today told Christmas shoppers to keep off public transport and wear face masks at all times as they splurge £1.7billion on the high street ‘before the capital plunges into Tier 3’.
More than £3million is expected to be spent every minute over the nine hours of trading across Britain today as delays in online deliveries and an anticipated move to Tier 3 forces some to rush their festive shopping.
Mr Khan told shoppers to ‘keep a two-metre distance wherever possible’ to stop the capital being plunged into the toughest level of restrictions next week.
In a joint statement with Cllr Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, he said: ‘We are appealing directly to Londoners – when out shopping it is essential that you follow the rules.
‘You must wear a face covering in shops and keep a two-metre distance wherever possible. Try to avoid travelling on public transport during rush hour, and walk and cycle where you can. If you have symptoms – don’t take a chance and don’t go out. Self-isolate immediately and get a test.
‘Businesses across London have worked really hard to make their premises Covid-safe – but we must all play our part in following the rules. So this weekend shop safe.’
Some 60,000 shoppers are expected at London’s Brent Cross, 80,000 at Lakeside and 130,000 at Manchester’s Trafford Centre over the course of today, according to The Sun.