London is on course for an imminent tightening of coronavirus restrictions, as cases continue to rise in Britain and the country’s response fragments.
A change in the rules in the U.K. capital is likely in very short order, according to an official in London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office. Khan and health leaders met Wednesday to discuss the potential move into stricter restrictions, which would ban two separate households from meeting indoors, the official said. London will soon hit an average of 100 cases per 100,000 people, the person said.
The move by London would follow stricter measures taken by Northern Ireland and Wales to combat the virus. Northern Ireland is planning to close schools from Monday and impose new curbs on pubs and restaurants, while Wales wants to restrict travel from English hot spots, with new regulations coming into force Friday.
Britain’s increasingly fractured coronavirus picture comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson resists calls for a “circuit-breaker” national lockdown and continues to pursue a localized approach. He is trying to balance reducing virus transmission with keeping as much of the economy open as possible. He set out a three-tiered system of regional Covid alert levels this week to try to simplify the imposition of social-distancing measures.
In England, the Liverpool region is currently the only area under the toughest rules in Johnson’s new three-tier system — with any pubs not serving food forced to close. Officials are discussing whether Greater Manchester and other areas should be added, despite objections from local leaders.
“Let’s try to avoid the misery of another national lockdown,” Johnson told the House of Commons on Wednesday. “I rule out nothing, of course, in combating the virus, but we are going to do it with the local, the regional approach that can drive down and will drive down the virus if it is properly implemented.”
On Wednesday, the U.K. recorded 137 Covid-19 deaths, down marginally on Tuesday’s 143, which was the highest daily death toll since June. New cases rose by 19,724, compared to 17,234 the day before. Scientists warn numbers will continue to rise.
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