Nearly nine million people across the UK’s capital will see new measures introduced to reduce socializing and limit bar and restaurant opening hours from Saturday. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said there was “simply no other option.”

On Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock formally announced measures to tackle London’s rising Covid-19 numbers, explaining that the threat to the country “remains grave and serious.” Hancock said that there are currently 97 cases per 100,000 people across the capital.

The announcement will see London move into Tier 2 of the UK’s lockdown system from midnight on Friday. This means a ban on households mixing indoors, a 10pm curfew for bars and restaurants, and social groups being limited to a maximum of six people.

Speaking on Thursday morning at London’s City Hall, Khan claimed that coronavirus is “spreading rapidly in every corner of our city.” He said that “nobody wants to see more restrictions, but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners.”

Khan told Sky News that different London boroughs had been recording varying infection rates, and that moving to Tier 2 was “inevitable.”

The restrictions are seen by some as slightly premature, as other European cities experiencing much worse infection rates didn’t see similar measures introduced until Covid-19 prevalence was higher in the population. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage described the news as “depressing.” 

London moves into Tier 2. Deeply depressing news.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his three-tier lockdown system on Monday, with every area in England being classed as medium, high or very high alert.

So far, only Liverpool has been subjected to the Tier 3, or ‘very high’, restrictions, which see pubs and bars shut and all household mixing banned.

On Wednesday, the national health service registered 19,724 new Covid-19 infections and 137 deaths. The UK is the most afflicted nation in Europe by fatalities, with 43,155 deaths recorded since the pandemic began.

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