Sadiq Khan Warns Of Rising Covid-19 Rates Among Teens Who Will Soon Be “Hugging Granny” At Christmas
The Mayor of London said the coronavirus restrictions may be "ineffective" at tackling cases among young people (Sky News)
The Mayor of London has called on the government to shut schools early and review the five-day relaxation of rules of Christmas amid rising cases among young people.
It comes as London is expected to move into Tier 3 from Wednesday following a sharp rise in cases in the capital, meaning many hospitality and entertainment venues will be required to close.
Speaking to Sky News, Sadiq Khan warned that moving into the highest tier of restrictions would be “catastrophic” for London’s economy.
He continued: “My concern is that the government appears to be retrofitting an ineffective tiering system around an issue of the virus spreading. And I'm not sure if it'll make much difference to the virus spreading.
“And that's why I've been calling on the government to do much more in that age group where we know there's been a biggest increase in the virus, a 75% increase in the last week in those aged between 10 and 19.”
“Many of them don't go to pubs, bars and restaurants. I've not seen a child of 10, 11, 12 or 13 in a pub, bar or restaurant.”
“And so my concern is that the blunt instrument of tear three won't do what's needed, which is to reduce the virus quickly.”
Mr Khan said it was important to focus on young people ahead of the Christmas break as they could pass it to other age groups.
“The particular concern we've got in London is the absence of community testing in schools. Many children, despite the heroic efforts of teachers could well have the virus and not know about it,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“These very same children next week will be hugging and kissing granny because the rules have been relaxed. We're going from Tier 2 to Tier 3 to Tier 0 to Tier 3 in advance of potentially another national lockdown in January.”
His comments come a day after Greenwich and Islington councils become the first in England to urge schools to switch to online learning for the final week of term.
But the government has since launched legal action against Greenwich council for failing to withdraw the request to schools.
In a statement, education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “It is simply not in children’s best interests for schools in Greenwich, Islington or elsewhere to close their doors. I have always been clear that using legal powers is a last resort but continuity of education is a national priority.
“That’s why I won’t hesitate to do what is right for young people and have issued a direction to Greenwich council setting out that they must withdraw the letter issued to headteachers on Sunday.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe