Lambeth needs a circuit-breaker lockdown

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A message from Lambeth Council Leader Cllr Jack Hopkins

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Dear resident,

As you will know, earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced a change to the structure of Covid-19 restrictions across the country, with areas categorised as Tier 1, 2 or 3. London has been placed in Tier 1 which contains measures that are broadly the same as they are currently, including a limit on groups of more than six gathering, a curfew on hospitality venues of 10pm and a recommendation that people work at home if they can.

In other areas of the country, Tier 2 will include preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors, with mixing only allowed outdoors, while Tier 3 will include banning all mixing between households and the closure of most hospitality venues.

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While London is currently in Tier 1, it is likely that the capital will be placed in a higher tier in the coming days. I am supportive of this, as are many other London council leaders and the Mayor of London. This is because the infection rate, hospitalisations and the spread of the virus continue to increase significantly.

In Lambeth, the recorded current rate of infections is 87.3 people per 100,000 people. This has more than doubled in the last couple of weeks and while some London boroughs have much higher rates, all London boroughs are seeing significant increases and the real number could be higher as we know over the last month people have had difficulties getting a test. On track and trace we have given up hope the government will bring about a “world beating” system, we are arguing for them to give local councils in London the money and responsibility as we are more confident of delivering a system that works.

Without that in place now, nationally we are in danger of losing control of the spread of the virus. That’s why I am joining London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other leaders across local government in calling for a ‘circuit breaker’ short term lockdown to get back control of the virus and to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed. If we don’t I fear that significant numbers of people will lose their lives and we will face many more months of economic and health challenges.

As I and other leaders urge government to take this step, it is critical that at the same time the Government provide a support package for local businesses, more resources for communication and enforcement and the ability for Lambeth Council to take over the contact tracing programme locally to help correct the failings we have seen with the national system.

We have been successful in some of our lobbying, with the government introducing self isolation payments of £500 for those who are required to self-isolate, cannot work from home and are already in receipt of benefits like Universal credit or housing benefit. But we need a return to the furlough scheme for areas with greater restrictions, full funding for localised test and trace, more support for businesses and more resources to fund interventions like mental health support which are crucial when so many are struggling with the impact of the virus and the lockdown.

It isn’t easy to call for additional restrictions, and none of us want to stop seeing our families and our friends. But action now can help to slow the spread of the virus and ensure we don’t face many more months of restrictions that impact our lives while at the same time not reducing cases of Covid-19. The government’s own scientific advice is clear, as is our local public health advice and I will continue to fight for the best possible outcome and support for Lambeth and you, our residents.

Best wishes,

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Cllr Jack Hopkins

Leader of Lambeth council