LONDONERS should be wearing face masks outside while shopping for Christmas, Sadiq Khan has said today.
The Mayor of London has urged shoppers to wear face coverings on the high streets as the capital inches closer to landing in Tier 3.
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The Mayor of London has urged shoppers in the capital to wear face masks outdoors on busy high streets[/caption]
Sadiq Khan has called for government support if London goes into Tier 3[/caption]
Mr Khan wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister: “Face coverings should also be made mandatory in busy outdoor public spaces, given the numbers on our high streets in the run up to Christmas.”
Masks are already compulsory on public transport, in railways stations airports and shops, and they must be worn in cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants before being seated.
Face masks that go over the nose and mouth are required because the virus spreads through droplets that are released when a person coughs or sneezes.
Scientists have said the risk of catching the killer bug outside isn’t as likely as being indoors.
However, the government does advise wearing a face mask if it’s difficult to socially distance from others – such as shopping on a crowded high street.
In the same letter, Mr Khan also asked the government for support to combat the worrying increase in Covid-19 infections in London.
He also called for schools to close early and re-open later in January.
How would the rules change if London goes into Tier 3?
If London is moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3, the main difference in restrictions is related to social gatherings, which will come as huge blow with just nine days before Christmas day.
In Tier 2, people can meet in groups of six outside – including places such as public spaces, private gardens and outdoor areas of pubs or restaurants.
Hospitality venues can also stay open as long as they serve a “substantial meal” with all sales of alcohol.
But in Tier 3, all hospitality venues would have to close.
People in Tier 3 must not meet with people from different households, unless they have a support bubble.
There are some limited exceptions to this – meaning groups of up to six people could meet in some outdoor public places such as parks, beaches, public gardens and playgrounds.
Shops, gyms and hairdressers can remain open in Tier 3.
He wrote: “I am calling on the Government to urgently provide additional support to get the spread under control, save lives and livelihoods and ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed this winter.
Mr Khan added: “If the Government does decide to introduce further restrictions in London this week, the economic impact on businesses could be catastrophic with hundreds of thousands of livelihoods at stake.
“I am asking Ministers urgently to put in place a compensation scheme for all lost income for any businesses affected by any further restrictions during this crucial festive period based on last year’s returns. The Government must also cover the full cost of Statutory Sick Pay for workers who have to self-isolate.”
Mr Khan will brief London MPs on the latest figures, which show that the infection is now doubling every four days in the city.
Greenwich in South East London is the first borough to shut all schools since the first lockdown.
And it comes just days after the Government revealed it could force schools to remain open by applying for a High Court injunction.
The nation’s tiers will be reviewed on Wednesday and London’s infection rate is the highest in the UK.
It leaves the capital at risk of moving into the ‘very high alert’ category, something the London mayor is keen to avoid. The whole capital is currently under Tier 2 restrictions.
If the city plunged into Tier 3, pubs and hospitality venues would be forced to close and people would no longer be allowed to meet friends in gardens.
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A decision on whether to change London’s tier will be made on Wednesday and any change will come into effect on Saturday, December 19.
The rules on gathering with people from other households would then be relaxed from December 23 for five days to allow families to get together over Christmas, but other restrictions would remain in place.
The worst affected areas of the capital are in the east, including Walthamstow, Redbridge, Newham and Barking.
Sadiq Khan's letter in full
The surge in coronavirus cases across our capital is deeply concerning. I am calling on the Government to urgently provide additional support to get the spread under control, save lives and livelihoods and ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed this winter.
“Increased testing is key to this, which is why I want to see regular asymptomatic testing extended to all those unable to work from home and to students and staff at London’s secondary schools, sixth-form college and FE colleges. With significant outbreaks among 10 to 19-year-olds, the Government must consider asking schools and colleges to close early and re-open later in January, with extra resource provided to support online learning. Face coverings should also be made mandatory in busy outdoor public spaces, given the numbers on our high streets in the run up to Christmas.
“If the Government does decide to introduce further restrictions in London this week, the economic impact on businesses could be catastrophic with hundreds of thousands of livelihoods at stake. I am asking Ministers urgently to put in place a compensation scheme for all lost income for any businesses affected by any further restrictions during this crucial festive period based on last year’s returns. The Government must also cover the full cost of Statutory Sick Pay for workers who have to self-isolate.
“2020 has been a dismal year for our once-thriving hospitality sector and world-famous cultural scene, which both contribute billions to our economy and attract millions of visitors. Without protecting them, there can be no meaningful recovery.
“The rollout of the vaccine has provided some light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel, but this is no time to be complacent and we cannot let so many months of compromise and sacrifice go to waste. Time is running out to get the virus under control in our city which is why I urge the Government to heed my call and provide us with the extra support we desperately need. Londoners always work together – and together our city will get through the winter and can look forward to better times ahead.”