- London is heading for lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic surges across the city.
- All schools, bars, restaurants, cinemas and gyms were closed across the UK from Friday.
- 40 London Underground Stations have been closed.
- Hospitals report a “critical incident” as the number of coronavirus cases surge in the capital.
- 18 more people died of the coronavirus in London within 24 hours.
- Downing Street denies any plans to prevent people from leaving or entering the city.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
London is going into “lockdown” to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Friday that all schools pubs, restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres would be closed across the UK from Friday.
Further London-specific restrictions have yet to be announced.
However, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed on Wednesday that the UK government are developing plans for “stringent measures” for the city, which could be announced imminently.
A Downing Street spokesperson on Thursday denied the government has any plans to restrict movement in and out of the city, or that limits would be placed on how many people could leave their homes.
Keep on reading below for the latest information on how the coronavirus pandemic is hitting London.
London parks begin to close as lockdown approaches
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was asked on the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday morning whether the city’s parks should close in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Khan declined to say either way, but it looks like individual boroughs are already starting to shut them down.
The Leader of Southwark Park, Peter John, has tweeted that all parks in the borough that can be locked up will be as of tonight.
Those playgrounds and spaces in @lb_southwark parks which can be locked will be locked and not re-opened after tonight. Park cafes will also be closed completely.
STAY HOME unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out. Your choice could be the difference between life & death.
— Peter John (@peterjohn6) March 22, 2020
In parks which cannot be locked up entirely, areas within them that can be locked, such as tennis courts and playgrounds, will be locked instead.
A wider shutdown of open spaces in London looks increasingly likely.
London congestion charge suspended to keep Londoners off public transport.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed on the Andrew Marr show that the congestion charge and low emission zones have been suspended in order to encourage essential workers to drive where possible rather than taking public transport.
“Don’t use public transport unless it is absolutely essential,” Khan told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
Londoners told to stay at home
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged Londoners to stay at home and only leave if it is “essential” for them to venture into the city.
Writing in the Observer newspaper on Sunday, Khan urges Londoners to:
“Avoid social contact. Work from home if you possibly can – my team and I will. Don’t use public transport unless you absolutely have to. Do not attend any gatherings. Avoid places of worship. Pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas and theatres should all now be closed. Restaurants and cafes must be takeaway or delivery only. Leave your home only if you really have to – to buy food and other essential items, to take a walk or exercise at a safe distance from others.”
UK pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and cinemas ordered to close
The UK’s bars, restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, leisure centres, and cinemas will all be ordered to close down tonight following a surge of coronavirus cases across Britain.
“Following agreement between all the four nations of the United Kingdom, all the devolved administrations, we will be telling cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow…” Johnson told a press conference on Friday afternoon.
“We’re also telling nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, gyms, and leisure centres to close on the same timescale.”
Another 18 people died from the coronavirus in London hospitals in the past 24 hours
Another 18 people have died in London hospitals in the past 24 hours as coronavirus cases in the city continue to surge well above the level found in the rest of the UK.
According to new data published by NHS England this afternoon, the deaths took place at the following hospitals:
- Imperial College Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – 4
- Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust – 3
- London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust – 1
- Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – 4
- St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 3
- University College London Hospitals NHS Trust – 1
- Croydon Health Services NHS Trust – 2
London hospital in ‘critical incident’ as ICU beds run out
A London hospital has declared a “critical incident” due to a surge in patients with coronavirus, with doctors describing the situation as “petrifying,” the Health Services Journal reports.
“In a message to staff, Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow said it has no critical care capacity left and has contacted neighbouring hospitals about transferring patients who need critical care to other sites.
The message, sent last night and seen by HSJ, said: “I am writing to let you know that we have this evening declared a ‘critical incident’ in relation to our critical care capacity at Northwick Park Hospital. This is due to an increasing number of patients with Covid-19.
“This means that we currently do not have enough space for patients requiring critical care.”
London pubs, restaurants and gyms could all be closed soon
Pubs, restaurants, gyms and cinemas across London could all be closed under government plans set to be announced imminently, the Evening Standard reported on Friday.
The paper reports that:
“Shops are not expected to be in the first wave of closure, but it is understood that non-essential stores could be included if they fail to stop customers handling items that could then pass on the virus.”
Thousands of London businesses could be shut down
The Telegraph reports that the UK government continues to draw up plans to forcibly close London businesses, such as pubs and restaurants if Londoners continue to flout the guidance to stay at home.
It comes as anecdotal reports of pubs and gyms continuing to be rammed throughout the city.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan to meet with Boris Johnson
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is due to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, Bloomberg reported, as discussions continue about what new measures to impose on the capital.
Downing Street denies any plan to restrict travel in and out of London
A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday denied some of the reported details about plans for a possible London lockdown.
The spokesperson said on Thursday: “There are no plans to close down the transport network in London and there is zero prospect of any restriction being placed on travelling in or out of London.”
They also dismissed reports that there would be limits on the number of people allowed out of their homes at any time as “not true” and said there were “no plans” to use the army to maintain public order.
However, Downing Street sources suggest new measures to enforce the closure of pubs and restaurants are under consideration.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in London rise to 953
The total number of coronavirus cases in the London region has risen to 953 according to the latest government figures.
London lockdown announcement could come on Friday
Reports differ on when a potential London lockdown could be announced. However, when asked about the plans on Wednesday, a Downing Street source insisted that nothing would be announced within 48 hours.
This ties with other reports that an announcement is due before the weekend, with new restrictions in place by next week.
40 London Underground stations closed across the city
London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Thursday that he will close 40 Tube stations across the city as it prepares for what City Hall officials anticipate will be a broader lockdown.
NEW: @TfL have announced a reduced service to enable key workers to make essential journeys.
➡️ Up to 40 stations now closed
➡️ Waterloo and City line and the Night Tube suspended from tomorrow
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) March 19, 2020
Khan is also reducing the frequency of services on the Tube, overground and buses, as many Londoners move to working from home.
You can read the full plans here.
City Hall kept in the dark over London lockdown
Sources close to London Mayor Sadiq Khan say that he has been kept in the dark about what the national government is planning for London.
Two sources close to London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan told Business Insider that he had not been consulted about any lockdown.
“We haven’t heard anything from them about this,” one said.
City Hall officials believe the secrecy may be due to the government remaining unsure about the extent of any lockdown.
“Maybe Downing Street don’t know [when this will happen]” they explained.”
Could Paris be the model for London’s lockdown?
Other European cities have already implemented lockdowns on their major cities.
In Paris, residents require a form before they are authorised to leave their homes, Business Insider reported earlier this week.
The Financial Times reports that similar plans were being considered for London.
However, Downing Street deny that such restrictive measures are under consideration.