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City Matters 124

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  • December


CITYMATTERS.LONDON December 2020 - January 2021 | Page 3 NEWS subscribe to our newsletter at STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: London business leaders voiced concerns about the new rules, though they welcomed the Tier 2 announcement. ‘No guarantee’ to avoid Tier 3 LONDON has moved into Tier 2 local lockdown as national restrictions end – but local leaders have warned there is “no guarantee” the capital will avoid tougher rules in future, writes Jessie Mathewson, Local Democracy Reporter. London’s Tier 2 or ‘high risk’ status means: •Shops, gyms, hairdressers, museums and cinemas will all reopen. •Pubs and restaurants will open until 11pm, but will only serve alcohol with a meal. •Households will be banned from mixing indoors, but groups of up to six will be able to meet outdoors. •Concerts and live sports will resume with a limited number of spectators. •People will be encouraged to work from home and avoid travel. London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who lobbied against Tier 3 rules – welcomed the decision to put the city in Tier 2 but said keeping the curfew was a “mistake”. Ministers hope that moving closing time for pubs and restaurants to 11pm but keeping last orders at 10pm will avoid a mass exodus onto the streets and public transport, which could put social distancing at risk. But Mr Khan – who previously backed a curfew – said the rule should be “scrapped altogether”. “It is a real blow to pubs, bars and restaurants who have endured such a difficult year and deserve better,” he said. London business leaders also voiced concerns about the new rules, though they welcomed the Tier 2 announcement. Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group London First, said December is a “critical trading season” and businesses will face “tremendous struggles” unless there is a “significant change” in public messaging. “Both central and local governments must make a combined push to reassure Londoners that public transport is safe, so that people can return to our great city and enjoy all that it has to offer this Christmas,” she said. London Chamber of Commerce boss Richard Burge said stressed the importance of this “special time of year” for London firms. “It’s obviously better to be able to trade than not, but Tier 2 still means a challenging operating environment for many in the hospitality sector,” he warned. Mr Burge said public confidence “hinges” on good test and trace, and urged the Government to step up its work. “We need the world class system that we were promised,” he said. “The Prime Minister’s strategy cannot simply be to wait for the vaccine cavalry to arrive.” But politicians also warned Londoners that the risks from the virus remain significant. Though infection rates have fallen as low as 0.78% of the population, according to the latest ONS figures, some boroughs remain under pressure. Mr Hancock’s written statement on the tier decisions stresses that 13 of the cities 33 local authorities have at least 10% higher case rates than they did a week ago. “Hospital admissions continue to increase in the East and North London in particular, although they are still well below the spring peak,” it said. Cllr Georgia Gould, who leads Camden Council and London Councils, the group representing all local authorities in the capital, said Londoners must not be “complacent”. “The data on Covid-19 shows that rates in London have only just started to shift in the right direction, so these tough measures are absolutely necessary,” she warned. “There is no guarantee that when we come to the review of tiers on 16 December, London will not move into Tier 3.” Ms Gould urged residents to “err on the side of caution” when making plans to see family and friends over Christmas. Firms look forward to opening doors AS many Square Mile residents give a cautious welcome to the relaxation of restrictions over Christmas, City businesses are looking forward to opening their doors again this week as London moves into Tier 2, writes Catherine McGuinness, City of London Policy Chair. We have all heard the news that an effective vaccine against coronavirus may be available soon, but, in reality, this winter will still be dominated by the virus which has cast a shadow across all our lives in 2020. While we begin to look forward to the coming year, we must remember that our individual parts to play in fighting coronavirus are as important as ever. The continued challenge for all our residents, workers and businesses is to carry on acting responsibly by complying with the new rules in order to reduce transmission. Ultimately, this will mean we can beat this virus, save lives and protect the NHS. It is only by following the rules that we will soon start to feel our lives returning to normal again and welcome friends and family into our homes and get back to the workplace. We should all continue to help by following the three simple rules: hands, face and space. We all need to keep regularly washing our hands (hands), keep wearing a face covering (face) and keep our distance from people not in our household or support bubble (space). And if we do get symptoms, which include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, we must self-isolate immediately and get tested. Booking a test is simple and can be done online via the NHS website, by calling 119 or using the NHS Covid-19 app. There are five testing sites based in the City of London and Hackney, including one at Guildhall Yard. If your test is positive, you will be advised to continue self-isolating for the full 10 days and members of your household or support bubble must isolate themselves for 14 days. You may also be told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or a City Corporation contact tracer, if you’ve been in contact with someone else who’s tested positive. We understand that this may be a challenge for some of you. If you cannot arrange for food, medication and other essential items to be delivered while you and your household self-isolate, please let the City Corporation know so that we can help. You can do this by emailing [email protected], or by calling 020 7606 3030. Please also consider getting a free flu vaccination if you are eligible for one as it will keep you safe against another dangerous virus this winter. From December 1st those aged 50-64 are also eligible for this vaccination. Last month the furlough scheme was extended until March – a welcome support for people during these tough times. And we are pleased that sectors such as hospitality and retail can trade again, as, now, more than ever, we need them open to help pay for the vast amount of Government support being provided at this time. We also need people back in the workplace to help deliver a thriving economy so we will continue to urge the Government to keep the restrictions on people’s lives and business under close review.

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