Work with us to boost London testing system, boroughs urge

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

With new national restrictions being announced by the Prime Minister today and the number of coronavirus cases in the capital on the rise, London Councils is urging government to boost capacity in London’s coronavirus testing system.

The new national restrictions announced today are:

1. Office workers who can work from home are being asked to do so.

2. From Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, except for takeaways.

3. All hospitality venues must close at 10pm.

4. More people must wear face coverings - staff working in retail; all users of taxis and private hire vehicles; and staff and customers in indoor hospitality venues - except when seated at tables to eat or drink.

5. In retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, government’s Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.

6. From Monday, a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions.

7. The rule of six is being extended to all adult indoor team sports.

8. Business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events will not be able to reopen from 1 October.

9. Stronger penalties for failing to adhere to government restrictions: a fine of up to £10,000 for businesses that break the rules and the penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.

London Councils, which represents the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation, supports the government’s decision to ramp up restrictions aimed at urgently reducing transmission of coronavirus and bringing down hospital admissions to keep people safe.

However London also needs a working testing system so that people in the capital experiencing coronavirus symptoms can have swift access to tests close to home. 

This means people who test positive can take action straight away to halt the spread. Conversely, if they have a negative result, they do not need to self-isolate for longer than necessary and can return to work and caring responsibilities, keeping the economy moving. 

Testing also provides data for London leaders and national government so they can better understand coronavirus transmission and prevalence in the capital, equipping them to make public health decisions. 

Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:

“It is clear that we are seeing a rising tide of coronavirus cases in the capital and we must act now to protect our residents and keep London safe.

“The enhanced national restrictions from government are welcome and are designed to have an impact on the spread of the virus in the capital.

“However these restrictions must come hand in hand with access to testing when Londoners need it. 

“It is deeply worrying that people are not getting test appointments in the London area due to lack of capacity. We know that Londoners are frustrated by problems accessing testing, but we urge them to follow the guidance and remain self-isolated if they have Covid symptoms.

“London boroughs are playing their part locally, but we need government to boost London’s testing system and ensure our residents can follow the official advice and get tested when they have coronavirus symptoms.”