London is “not ready” for a local coronavirus lockdown, the capital’s mayor has warned.
Sadiq Khan told Sky News he was waiting for the government to provide “clarity” on what powers and resources he would be given to enforce localised restrictions if they become necessary.
Last month, the UK’s first full local lockdown was announced in Leicester as part of the government’s “whack-a-mole” strategy to deal with local flare-ups in COVID-19 infections.
Shops and schools were closed in the Midlands city, while the reopening of pubs and restaurants did not take place in line with the rest of England.
Asked about the possibility of similar action being taken within London’s 32 boroughs, Mr Khan told Sky News’ Kay Burley @ Breakfast show: “At the moment we’re not ready.
“I’ve been lobbying the government for them to provide clarity in relation to the powers and resources we have to enforce a local lockdown.
“I think it would be possible to have a lockdown based upon a specific building, a factory, a school, a place of worship.
“It would be very difficult at the moment, because of the lack of clarity, to have a local lockdown based on a geographical area.”
The London mayor described the Leicester lockdown as a “case study” in “how not to respond to a situation”.
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“We had examples, we were told, of people in Leicester being able to leave Leicester and go to other cities when the pubs began to reopen,” Mr Khan said.
“The government’s got to use this opportunity, we’ve got time, to make sure they provide clarity on what the powers are, what the resources are, in relation to enforcing – heaven forbid – a local lockdown should it be required.”
Mr Khan welcomed the government’s announcement that the wearing of face coverings in shops and supermarkets will be mandatory in England from 24 July.
But he questioned why the action wasn’t being taken immediately, adding: “It’s really important, now that the infection rate appears to be lower, the R number appears to be lower, now is the time to make sure we have all the steps in place to avoid a second wave and, certainly, avoid the need for a second lockdown.”
Meanwhile, Labour shadow health minister Justin Madders has written to Baroness Dido Harding, who chairs the government’s test and trace programme, to call for councils to receive daily data on coronavirus infections in their local areas.
“Councils are getting testing data which is sometimes nearly a fortnight old and has such little information in it that it is virtually useless in being able to spot and stop local outbreaks,” Mr Madders said.
“We are asking that positive test results are given to councils on a daily basis, in real time if possible, and that there should be sufficient information for them to be able to identify the workplace if possible, where an outbreak has occurred.
“The government needs to be much more open and transparent with local councils so that together we can catch local outbreaks earlier and stop transmission of the virus.”