Katy Balls

London heading for at least Tier 3

London heading for at least Tier 3
Picture by Andrew Parsons / No. 10 Downing Street
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When will London move into Tier 3 restrictions? The sense in government is that it's no longer a matter of 'if' but 'when' — and that 'when' is imminent. Matt Hancock is expected to make an announcement this afternoon after he chaired a Covid operations committee meeting this morning to look at the data. The initial plan had been for a review of the tiers by Wednesday — but that decision has been brought forward after the capitals worrying rise in infection rate data. 

When areas were placed into the new tier system a few weeks ago, there were some ministers — namely Michael Gove — who pushed for London to be placed under the strictest restrictions. However, they faced strong resistance both from the Chancellor and the London Mayor. That resistance has in large part subsided. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has told the press that the capital could be put under Tier 3 as soon as today — and called for secondary school closures. However, one Whitehall source tells Coffee House that the restrictions are unlikely to come into force before Wednesday.

Coffee House understands the restrictions could be even stricter than the current Tier 3 rules. There is a concern among cabinet ministers that the high rates in London mean Tier 3 as it stands won't be enough. Instead, Londoners could be treated to 'Tier 3 plus'. This could see further restrictions for retail — under the current rules all retail stays open. 

Update: Matt Hancock has confirmed to London MPs that the capital will be placed into Tier 3 - coming into effect at 12:01 Wednesday. Meanwhile, after a disucssion on whether extra restrictions are required on top of Tier 3, Coffee House understands it will be basic Tier 3 for the timebeing – with the possibility of adding extra restrictions later down the line. 

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

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