LONDON set for Tier 3 from NEXT Saturday as capital has England’s highest Covid infection rate

The whole capital is currently under Tier 2 restrictions, but figures suggest it is hurtling towards tougher measures.

MPs from the capital had a crunch meeting with Health ministers today – where they were warned it wasn’t looking good.

A decision on whether to change London’s tier will be made on December 16 and come into effect on Saturday, December 19.

One MP on the call said: “It feels like they are preparing us for Tier 3. The data is pointing that way.”

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock expressed his concerns about the rising rates in the South East – and announced an immediate plan to test all secondary school children in those areas.

He told a No10 press conference tonight: “I’m particularly concerned about the number of cases in London, Kent and Essex. Cases are rising and in many areas are already high.”

London recorded 191.8 new cases per 100,000 in the week to December 6, according to a report published this afternoon by Public Health England.

It’s 20 per cent higher than the week prior, when the whole of England was in the grips of its second lockdown.

For comparison, the figure is 130.9 in the North West – where swathes of authorities are in Tier 3.

The infection rate is 162.5 in the East Midlands, 160 in the South East, 158.4 in the West Midlands, 149.2 in Yorkshire and the Humber, 147.2 in the East of England, 146.2 in the North East, and 77.3 in the South West. 

London, the South East and East of England are seeing cases rise, PHE’s Covid-19 and flu surveillance report stated.

More official data shows every borough in London has a higher coronavirus case rate than at least one Tier 3 area, figures show.

Moving to the highest alert level would mean a miserable lead up to Christmas, with pubs and restaurants closed and a ban on seeing friends and family.

Professor Tim Spector, who leads research into the outbreak in the UK, said locking down London would be “a big mistake”.

And it could mean around 150,000 people lose their jobs, industry experts warn.

But a public health expert warned the capital needs to be moved into Tier 3 as soon as possible to avoid further infections and Covid-related deaths.

It came after Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, warned any extra rules would be “catastrophic” for the capital.

He said: “Tier 3 would be catastrophic to our hospitality sector – pubs, bars, restaurants would be seriously affected, and our cultural venues.

“Londoners have made huge sacrifices over the last few weeks and months.

“It’s really important, leading up to Christmas where the rules will be relaxed even more, we do all we can to keep ourselves safe, our families safe but also don’t allow the NHS to be overwhelmed in January.”

Yesterday Mr Hancock gave a stern warning to Londoners, dangling the threat of Tier 3 if they don’t abide by the rules.

He told LBC radio: “My message to everybody in London is ‘let’s stick by the rules’ and not push the boundaries of the rules, but rather try to limit the spread of this infection…

“Because the case numbers are going up in parts of London, in parts of Essex, in parts of Kent, and we know what happens when case numbers go up, sadly more people end up in hospital and more people end up dying.”

He reiterated on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Government’s goal is always to protect the NHS, which would mean clamping down on freedoms in the worst scenario.