London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called upon Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make mixed house visits illegal for nine million people in London as part of a renewed push to see stricter lockdown measures imposed to tackle rising Covid-19 infections.
The British capital had been put on the national lockdown watchlist due to the creeping number in Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions, with BoJo’s government cautioning that the R rate - that is, the number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the virus on to - may now be as high as 1.5.
On Friday, September 25, approximately 620 new Covid-19 cases were reported in London.
In an effort to stem the spread of the potentially fatal disease, which has killed an estimated 41,936 Brits, Mr Khan has requested that BoJo ban people from different households mixing.
“One of the things that I said to the Prime Minister is: I think we [in London] should be following what’s happening around the country and stopping social mixing of households, and I say that with a heavy heart,” Mr Khan told The Guardian.
Mr Khan also pointed to a 43% decline in Covid-19 testing in and around London between August and September as obscuring potentially skyrocketing infection rates.
“It beggars belief,” Khan said of the fall in testing rates.
“We all knew that in September there would be a greater need for testing… I’m really angry. It’s another example of lessons not being learned. You can explain the delay, incompetence in March. There’s no excuse now,” he added.
Mr Khan said that he spoke to Boris Johnson after attending a Cobra meeting - the government’s crisis response unit - that was aimed at giving the stamp of approval to new distancing measures, including pub and restaurant closes from 10pm nationwide.
The Mayor of London said that he told Mr Johnson of the rising rates of infection in London and that, “if you go too late, we will already be in a north-east, north-west, Birmingham-type situation,” referring to areas of the UK where infection rates have been steadily climbing for weeks.
Khan proposed to the Prime Minister the ban on mixed households socialising in London, a measure which has already been implemented in Scotland, Wales and other parts of England.
Yet, pointing to the lack of government preparation and awareness, Mr Khan claimed that, “when I spoke to the prime minister… he was surprised that I was saying there’s a problem in London, and that I was asking for additional measures.”
Continuing his critique of BoJo’s response, Khan said, “you get the impression that the government likes using this phrase ‘individual responsibility’ so they can point the finger at individuals who have caught the virus, as if we’re somehow culpable when, in fact, many of us are doing the right thing… I just don’t think he’s understood what the scientific advisers are advising, or what others around the world are doing to try and control this virus. I think he’s got it wrong again with this announcement.”
London has recently implemented stringent social distancing monitoring mechanisms, including sending council inspectors to peer through the letterboxes and windows of pubs and clubs in an effort to make sure that they are not holding lock-ins past the 10pm curfew.
Extra lockdown measures have been imposed in some part of the UK where the rate of infection has been rising for weeks, including Wigan, Blackpool, Stockport and areas of Wales, placing around 17 million Brits under tougher restrictions. 6,874 new Covid-19 infections were registered on September 25.