London could be plunged into a new, Tier 5-style lockdown amid surging Covid infection numbers.
Experts have warned the existing restrictions may not be enough to control the virus this winter.
And with London and much of the south-east already in the most severe Tier 4 restrictions, any further tightening could require the creation of a new tier.
The Mirror Online has reported that a Whitehall source has warned Tier 4 rules do not appear to be working, and that the Government could introduce “another level on to tier 4, so like a tier 5”.
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It comes before it was announced that a further 53,135 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus had been reported in the UK – the highest total by far since the pandemic began.
It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 2,382,865.
According to the latest table of infection rates across the 315 local authority areas of England, London has 23 places in the top 50 – far more than anywhere else.
And the worst of them all in the capital is Havering, where the rate was recorded on Monday at 1,199.8 per 100,000 people.
Any decision on the city’s restrictions is likely to be based on the areas with the most severe problems, so while some areas have lower rates, the Government may well include them if it decides tougher controls are needed.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has reportedly said a tougher lockdown should be imposed – with the closure of secondary schools part of any such move – next month, according to Politico.
In addition, a Government advisor has warned that the country faces ‘catastrophe’ within weeks unless new measures are taken to control the virus after the new Covid variant led to a surge in infections.
Professor Andrew Hayward, of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told the Today programme: “I think we are entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic and we’re going to need decisive, early, national action to prevent a catastrophe in January and February.”
Any decision on what might happen in London will be guided by the numbers, but it will be the areas with the highest rates that could determine what happens to the capital as a whole.
As of Monday, 282 (90 per cent) of the 315 council areas of England had seen a rise in case rates and 33 (10 per cent) had seen a fall, the Press Association reports.
The data is based on Public Health England data published on December 27 on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard.
From left to right, the list below ranks the worst-affected areas of London.
It shows: name of local authority; the tier of Covid-19 restrictions in which the local authority is currently placed; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 23; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to December 23; rate of new cases in the seven days to December 16; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to December 16.
Havering, London, Tier 4, 1199.8, (3114), 1043.0, (2707)
Redbridge, London, Tier 4, 1032.4, (3151), 901.0, (2750)
Bexley, London, Tier 4, 1030.7, (2559), 739.9, (1837)
Barking and Dagenham, London, Tier 4, 1010.3, (2151), 841.2, (1791)
Tower Hamlets, London, Tier 4, 937.4, (3044), 671.9, (2182)
Enfield, London, Tier 4, 920.6, (3073), 707.0, (2360)
Waltham Forest, London Tier 4, 903.3, (2502), 698.6, (1935)
Newham, London, Tier 4, 855.5, (3021), 689.5, (2435)
Bromley, London, Tier 4, 826.6, (2747), 539.2, (1792)
Hackney and City of London, London, Tier 4, 789.4, (2296), 526.7, (1532)
Haringey, London, Tier 4, 769.8, (2068), 543.5, (1460)
Merton, London, Tier 4, 734.0, (1516), 493.8, (1020)
Wandsworth, London, Tier 4, 731.0, (2410), 450.1, (1484)
Croydon, London, Tier 4, 727.9, (2815), 506.8, (1960)
Lambeth, London, Tier 4, 710.0, (2315), 476.0, (1552)
Southwark, London, Tier 4, 704.1, (2245), 432.2, (1378)
Greenwich, London, Tier 4, 695.6, (2003), 510.2, (1469)
Barnet, London Tier 4, 685.3, (2713), 425.9, (1686)
Sutton, London, Tier 4, 678.9, (1401), 489.9, (1011)
Harrow, London, Tier 4, 660.9, (1660), 508.8, (1278)
Hillingdon, London, Tier 4, 657.3, (2017), 445.5, (1367)
Lewisham, London, Tier 4, 656.9, (2009), 477.0, (1459)
Hounslow, London, Tier 4, 644.9, (1751), 409.5, (1112)
The Mirror Online reports that a source has warned the current Tier 4 rules, which are applied at a regional level, do not appear to be working and harsher measures could be imposed.
Any new restrictions could affect schools or ban people from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons.
Pubs and restaurants in Tier 4 can currently operate as take-aways, but it is thought that tougher restrictions could see them shut entirely, leaving only essential shops open such as supermarkets and pharmacies.
Under Tier 4 guidance, people can meet at the moment with one person outside in a public place such as a park.
However, that could be banned under tougher rules.