In Depth

Coronavirus: what a London lockdown would look like

Boris Johnson prepared to introduce ‘further and faster measures’ to tackle outbreak

London is facing a potential lockdown as Boris Johnson warns that he is prepared to take “further and faster measures” to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Cabinet Office has written to Whitehall departments asking for their recommendations on stricter measures for the English capital, in a “shielding plan for London”, according to The Guardian.

The prime minister said on Wednesday that he will not hesitate to roll out tougher action to protect people’s health and NHS services, “as officials reiterated the capital was ahead of other parts of the country in terms of the virus’s spread”, the newspaper adds.

What steps has London already taken?

A partial lockdown of London has already begun, with Transport for London (TfL) announcing that services are ceasing cease on parts of the city’s travel network from Thursday morning.

Up to 40 London Underground stations are closing, bus services are being reduced and the night tube will be suspended, says the BBC.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has echoed the PM’s call for Londoners to avoid all non-essential travel.

“Londoners should be avoiding social interaction unless absolutely necessary, and that means they should be avoiding using the transport network unless absolutely necessary,” Khan said.

“London will get through these extraordinarily challenging times, and ensuring the capital’s critical workers can move around the city will be crucial. We owe it to them to do whatever we can to help them do their jobs effectively.”

Which tube stations are closing?

The affected stations are:

  • Bakerloo Line: Lambeth North, Regents Park, Warwick Avenue, Kilburn Park, Charing Cross
  • Central Line: Holland Park, Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Chancery Lane, Redbridge
  • Circle Line: Bayswater, Great Portland Street, Barbican
  • District Line: Bow Road, Stepney Green, Mansion House, Temple, St James's Park, Gloucester Road
  • Jubilee Line: Swiss Cottage, St John's Wood, Bermondsey, Southwark
  • Northern Line: Tuffnell Park, Chalk Farm, Mornington Crescent, Goodge Street, Borough, Clapham South, Tooting Bec, South Wimbledon, Hampstead
  • Piccadilly Line: Caledonian Road, Arsenal, Covent Garden, Hyde Park Corner, Bounds Green, Manor House
  • Victoria Line: Pimlico, Blackhorse Road

TfL said these stations “could be closed” from Thursday, and is advising passengers to check live updates before they travel.

What would a further lockdown look like?

At his daily coronavirus briefing yesterday, Johnson said that “in a land of liberty, we don’t tend to impose those sort of restriction”.

“But I have to tell you - we will rule nothing out,” he continued. “We will bring forward further and faster measures where necessary.”

Under the 1984 Public Health (Control of Disease) Act, people can “be kept in isolation for their own safety”, said the PM’s spokesperson.

In some countries, including Italy and France, people are facing fines for leaving their homes for reasons other than buying food or medicine or going to work if they can’t work from home.

Government sources told CNN that the measures being considered for London would mirror those taken in some other European countries.

So will it happen?

The situation is “under continuous review”, Johnson said on Wednesday, when the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in London stood at 953  - more than a third of the 2,626 UK total.

The capital is expected to suffer a quarter of the eventual total number of fatalities, The Independent reports.

Repeating his warning that more stringent measures were on the table, the PM said: “Absolutely, we do not rule out… because it would be quite wrong to do so… we do not rule out taking further and faster measures in due course.”

However, a City Hall told The Guardian that there had been no word from Downing Street on enforcing stricter measures on London residents for the time being.

“We’ve not been told anything at all about this yet, which would indicate there’s nothing due immediately. But we are ready to take what action is needed to protect the health of Londoners,” the source told the newpaper.

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