The new Covid restrictions in London could go on for “months and months and months” unless the government acts, Sadiq Khan is warning.
The tier 2 crackdown will only be lifted quickly if Boris Johnson gives way and agrees to a short, nationwide “circuit break”, the capital’s mayor argued.
“This could essentially go on for months,” Mr Khan said, adding: “And that’s one of the practical reasons why a short-term national circuit break for two weeks, for me, makes more sense.”
He added: “Let’s get through the two week pain and then, hopefully, we wouldn’t have months and months and months of restrictions” – warning of the impact on “mental health”.
London will move into tier 2 at midnight on Friday, banning millions of people living in the capital banned from mixing with different households indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
Residents will also be urged to cut the number of journeys they make, although travel will be permitted for work, or education, or to visit amenities that are open.
Mr Khan had pushed for the new curbs – as coronavirus infections leap across the capital – but would prefer the shorter, sharper, shock of a new UK lockdown, called for by Keir Starmer.
Earlier, a leading government scientist warned England will be “very close” to the peak of the pandemic in April “within two or three weeks”, without tougher action.
Speaking on LBC Radio, Mr Khan acknowledged the pain facing romantic partners, living in different flats for example, unable to meet each other indoors.
“Under the current rules, yes, that’s my understanding,” he replied.
Advocating a short, nationwide lockdown, he acknowledged: “It’s going to be painful for two weeks, it really is going to be hard.”
But he added: “With the right financial support, for the businesses and for councils and individuals, let’s get through the two week pain.
“And then, hopefully, we wouldn’t have months and months and months of restrictions which, as you said, it’s not only not romantic, it’s really hard on the mental health of people as well.”
Mr Khan has faced criticism for accepting the move into tier 2, which comes without any of the extra – albeit very limited – financial help given to Liverpool and Lancashire in tier 3.
The new rules also mean pubs and restaurants must ensure customers eat and drink only while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
Places of worship remain open, but people may not mingle in groups of more than six, and weddings and funerals can only go ahead