London Mayor calls for clarity on local outbreak powers

The Mayor of London has called on the Government to provide more clarity on what powers and resources will be available to manage local Covid-19 outbreaks.

Sadiq Khan has written to Health Secretary Matt Hancock asking what additional resources will be made available to regional and local governments to support the management of local outbreaks of coronavirus.

In the letter, seen by PA and sent on Monday, Mr Khan said that in order to prevent further “loss of life on the scale we have already seen” local areas must be able to respond “quickly and dynamically” to outbreaks to prevent them from becoming a regional or national second wave.

He asked Mr Hancock for clarity on what devolved powers were available to enforce local measures such as asking people to stay home and not meet other people.

Mr Khan added: “As lockdown measures are eased, we must do all we can to prevent a second wave.

“Whilst we hope that the number of Covid-19 cases remains low, we must be prepared for the possibility of local outbreaks and spikes.

“To support a localised approach we need more information about the Government’s plans for mobilising and delivering the response to local outbreaks.

“Without further clarity on the powers and resources at London’s disposal to manage any ‘local lockdown’ or enhanced social distancing measures, we cannot deliver public confidence in the response that Londoners expect and deserve.”

His letter comes after Leicester’s Mayor suggested that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers in Leicester may be forced to stay closed for two more weeks after a rise in coronavirus cases.

Leicester has recorded 866 new cases of coronavirus in the last two weeks – leading to speculation over the weekend that the city would be locked down.

Shoppers on Humberstone Gate in Leicester
Shoppers on Humberstone Gate in Leicester

Sir Peter said a Public Health England (PHE) report sent to him overnight said current restrictions in place across England should be extended in Leicester for a further two weeks.

In his letter Mr Khan also questioned how the furlough and job support schemes will be flexible to support local outbreak responses.

He added: “Lockdown in an area would have an immediate impact on local businesses, the livelihoods of the people they employ, and anyone who would not be able to attend their place of work.

“A lack of public confidence in these issues could lead to non-compliance with local measures.”