The City of London Corporation has described the capital’s move into Tier 3 lockdown as a “blow” to households and businesses.
Government has announced that London will be placed into the top level of localised restrictions from 16 December to manage outbreaks of Covid-19 and suppress the virus.
Figures revealed almost 24,000 new Covid-19 cases in the past week, with a “significant” rise in cases among secondary school age children.
City Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness said: “We urge policymakers to keep the decision under close review, based on the evidence, so that the capital can move back to Tier 2 and gain a semblance of normality as soon as possible.
“It’s also vital that the businesses and hospitality and cultural enterprises which will suffer particularly from this increase in restrictions at a critical time, are given adequate support.
“Hopefully the vaccine roll-out will be a game changer next year, but we have to bring this dreadful virus under control in the meantime, and strongly urge Londoners to continue to act responsibly by complying with the new Tier 3 rules in order to reduce transmission, save lives and protect the NHS.
“As we look to 2021, we urgently need a thriving economy to help pay for the vast amount of support being provided at this time. The City will need clarity on when office workers can return to Covid-secure workplaces. This is vital in order to get as much of the economy operating as possible and protect livelihoods.”
Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, echoed sentiments that additional restrictions come into force at a bad time for many sectors.
She said: “Moving into Tier 3 before Christmas is deeply disappointing for Londoners, and a terrible blow to the capital’s hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors. Those businesses forced to close must be given the support they need to survive into the New Year.”
London Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Richard Burge added that a mass testing plan is needed to ensure case numbers come down with the Christmas lights.
He said: “If health professionals decide it is essential that London moves into Tier 3 then so be it. But the business support from the Government must be sufficient and immediate.
“This must include – as a minimum – instant cash support to enterprises in hospitality and leisure, and extension of the business rates holiday into the next financial year – which will help the whole of the high street to plan their outgoings and mitigate the impact of loss of trade due to restrictions deterring those outside London from travelling in.
“Vaccination roll-out is perhaps also unlikely to equate to economic benefit until well into the next financial year.
“There must also be a clear Government plan with London’s councils for the rollout of widescale testing in the capital, and provide sufficient support for those who have to self-isolate, not least the self-employed and sole traders. Only then will we see the number of cases come down with the Christmas lights.”
Meanwhile, Len Duvall OBE, Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee, said that while many will be disappointed with the news, restrictions are being laid out to save lives.
He said: “Today’s news will come as a big blow for businesses across London. For London to be moved to the highest tier of Covid-19 restrictions when businesses have just reopened their doors is extremely difficult, especially this time of the year when London is usually buzzing with people soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.
“While this is difficult news to swallow, Covid-19 restrictions are in place to protect our city, each other, and the NHS. We must remember that.
“As pubs, restaurants and theatres close their doors again for the third time this year, there must be the right support packages in place to help those businesses and individuals who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. None of this is their fault and life is already hard enough this year without added financial pressure.
“While it is understandable that Londoners will be frustrated by today’s news, safety must come first. Londoners, I urge you to please obey the new restrictions, as hard as they are. We must all work together to stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”