The “broadbrush” approach of placing the whole of London into a Tier 2 lockdown has been slammed by Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill, in a fiery question aimed at health secretary Matt Hancock.
Sir Bob fired the question to the Tory health boss in the Commons shortly after it was confirmed the entire capital would be placed in Tier 2 measures from midnight Friday.
“A number of us in London regard it as neither targeted nor proportionate nor appropriate to use a London-wide average in so large a metropolitan area where so little commuting is now taking place,” he said .
“Will he reflect upon this in future and will he speak today to the Chancellor to see what support can be given to hospitality businesses in the London suburbs who are suffering as of now, as a direct consequence of his decision?”
It is neither targeted, nor proportionate, nor appropriate to take the sort of broadbrush approach we’ve seen in moving the entirety of London into Tier 2 from 00.01 on Saturday.
More support must now be made available, including to hospitality & events businesses in Bromley. pic.twitter.com/TF9ZY92QN7
— Sir Bob Neill MP (@neill_bob) October 15, 2020
The health secretary disagreed with his colleague’s thoughts on travel – saying a “huge amount” of commuting was still being done by the city’s workers – although acknowledging that rates “in his patch…are lower than the London average”.
“Nevertheless, unfortunately, they are rising sharply and so this action, we considered a borough-by-borough approach, but because of the integrated nature of London, and because unfortunately cases are rising fast across London, we decided the best approach was for the whole of London to go into level 2 together,” he said.
The question from the Bromley-area MP highlighted the frustration many figures in greater London feel as the entire capital is locked into more restrictive measures to combat Covid-19, despite many areas on the periphery of the city having lower and slower-growing rates of the virus.
Sir Bob’s fellow Tory and constituent neighbour, Orpington MP Gareth Bacon, held a similar view – saying his area had more in common with Kent than it did with inner-city London.
In a letter to Mr Hancock written earlier this week, Mr Bacon also asked the health secretary what scientific evidence there is to support the view that the capital should be treated as one place under local lockdown rules.
Following the announcement that Bromley would be included in the city-wide measures, Mr Bacon acknowledged his own disappointment but added it was important residents adhered to the rules.
“I am disappointed that Bromley has been moved up to Tier 2 as our rate of infection is lower than the rest of Greater London,” he said.
“I have been strongly making a case for borough variations to stop measures being unfairly imposed.
“Although Bromley has the third-lowest rate of infection in the capital, we have seen a sharp rise in the virus locally.
“While I question the evidence behind moving London as one into Tier 2, given the variation of infection rates across the capital, we all must follow these new rules to reduce the virus locally.”
Closer to inner-city London, other figures have voiced support for the move.
Len Duvall, Labour’s London Assembly member for Greenwich and Lewisham, reiterated concerns for businesses in the capital.
“No one really wants to implement further restrictions, but there is a real need to do so. This is essential if we’re to slow down the rate of infections in our communities and save lives. In recent days we’ve seen cases rising in all London Boroughs, and so this is a necessary step,” he said.
“This is a really tough time for Londoners and London businesses. Many people will be worried about their livelihoods, as well as their safety and that of their loved ones.
“We do need these additional measures to protect our city, each other and the NHS. We also need adequate financial support for those businesses and workers badly impacted by this pandemic.
Greens candidate for London Mayor, Sian Berry, said she supported current Mayor Sadiq Khan’s backing for a “circuit-breaker” lockdown if it came with income support for those impacted.
“A short, effective lockdown combined with universal income support, where no one can fall through the cracks into destitution, is what our citizens need at this crucial time. This is how we can work together as a city to save lives,” she said.