London is on the brink of a new lockdown with the city’s nine million residents banned from seeing their friends and family indoors within days.
Boris Johnson stepped back from immediately placing the capital into the second “Very High risk” group as he outlined the nation’s new triple-tiered lockdown system this afternoon.
Fears had been high of an immediate move by the Government to put London on a par with Manchester and Newcastle.
But the capital is expected to be hurled within days into the middle category of the tougher restrictions drawn up by Number 10 to try and stem the spread of Covid-19, if the outbreak continues to spiral.
Official statistics show London’s infection rate — the number of weekly cases per 100,000 people — has doubled in a fortnight.
London mayor Sadiq Khan is to speak to city leaders this afternoon, with a senior source saying: “We are preparing for more measures in the very near future.”
The restrictions would prohibit London households from mixing indoors, although up to six from different homes will still be allowed to meet up outside.
Health chiefs are also understood to be discussing whether or not to limit travel to “only essential” trips.
The level two tier also sees pubs, restaurants and gyms still permitted to open up their doors. They will still have to obey the current 10pm curfew rules, however.
Mr Khan last week warned tougher lockdown measures in the capital are “inevitable”.
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He warned it was important to curtail the virus’s spread in the city before the pandemic gets to levels ‘we saw in March and April’.
It comes as medical chiefs today sounded a grim warning about the resurgent threat from coronavirus.
Hours before the Prime Minister is due to set out a new ‘traffic light’ system of curbs for England, top government advisers were sent out to ‘roll the pitch’ with a stark assessment of the danger.
Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam and NHS medical director Stephen Powis told a briefing in Downing Street that the number of patients in hospital was now higher than before the blanket lockdown was imposed in March – and could be above the previous peak within four weeks.
They delivered a stark warning that the surge in cases was a ‘nationwide phenomenon’, rather than just in the North, and was spreading from younger people to the more vulnerable old generation.