London And Other Areas Could Face Travel Lockdown, No.10 Confirms

Rachel Wearmouth
·3-min read

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Travel in and out of London and other areas across England could be halted to curb a second wave of Covid-19.

No.10 confirmed the government could move to shutdown local transport networks and stop travel if any “localised area” was “badly affected”.

It comes amid a flurry of reports that airports in the capital could be frozen and other travel stopped.

Asked to clarify whether such a lockdown could happen in London, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson did not rule it out and said other places could face a similar ban.

They said: “If you look at the Contain strategy which we published just over two weeks ago, it sets out within there the possibility of putting in place restrictions on travel, if there is an area that is particularly badly affected, and one of the steps within that potentially includes closing down local transport networks.

“So, it’s there, it’s contained in the document. It’s not a new thing.

“We’ve informed the public and politicians of that being a potential action that we can take.

“But to be clear it is not something specific to London or anywhere else, it is something which would be used if there was a specific outbreak in a town or city or localised area.”

Hunton Bridge, UK - February 23, 2020: Evening traffic on busiest British motorway M25 (Photo: Jaroslaw Kilian via Getty Images)
Hunton Bridge, UK - February 23, 2020: Evening traffic on busiest British motorway M25 (Photo: Jaroslaw Kilian via Getty Images)

Last week, Downing Street reimposed some lockdown measures in Manchester and parts of the north as new data revealed a surge in positive tests for the virus.

Since then, a major incident has been declared in Manchester.

Reports have also emerged that the government is weighing up plans to introduce shielding measures for the over-50s.

It is also thought fresh restrictions on households meeting could be on the cards.

Appearing on LBC radio on Monday, business minister Nadhim Zahawi also refused to rule out a London lockdown.

He said: “We constantly look at how the virus is behaving.

“If we see the virus spreading in a particular way in London, as we‘ve seen in Manchester and West Yorkshire, where it’s spreading through people coming into another person’s home and that’s the way it’s spread, then we will discuss that with the police and we will not hesitate to act.”

Zahawi was repeatedly asked if this meant nobody going in or out of the capital.

He said: “Look, I don’t want to speculate and set hares running in any way on your programme.

“What I would say is look at the way we’re dealing with it, whether in Leicester or Manchester and West Yorkshire and East Lancashire or elsewhere.

“We will actually follow how the virus is behaving and how it is being transmitted between people and then act accordingly.”

Number 10 also warned that people must stick to the social distancing rules.

The PM’s spokesperson said: “At the moment, the restrictions on social contact are limited to specific parts of the country which have seen localised flare-ups but everybody needs to continue the social distancing guidance.

“We need to keep monitoring the situation, make sure everybody has access to testing and ensure that if we do see localised spikes in any part of England then we need to take action to deal with them.”

Asked if Johnson agreed with comments made by Professor Graham Medley, a member of SAGE, that pubs may be forced to shut in order to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission and allow schools to open, the spokesperson said: “Our approach is a localised one where you would assess the situation on the ground and take whatever steps were required to slow the spread of the virus.

“More broadly we are committed to supporting the hospitality industry which has had a very tough time.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.