People should not travel to London for Christmas shopping, Matt Hancock warned as he plunged London into tier three restrictions.
After a spike in the capital’s coronavirus cases, the government brought their review forward and announced new rules for the city today instead of Wednesday.
Although tier three restrictions still allow non-essential shops to stay open, the Health Secretary warned people against travelling to the capital for Christmas shopping and advised those under the harshest tier to restrict their travel.
There have been warnings that the move could devastate businesses in the city, including the usually-packed Oxford Street, where about £1.7billion was spent on Saturday.
The Conservative chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee, Jeremy Hunt, asked Mr Hancock: ‘From Wednesday, if you live outside London will it be against the regulations to come into Oxford Street to do your Christmas shopping?
‘If you live inside London will it be against the regulations to do your Christmas shopping and is the only way to do your Christmas shopping legally now to go online?’
Mr Hancock responded: ‘The question he asks about Christmas shopping is important. It is recommended that people should minimise travel unless it is necessary in a tier three area.
‘They should also minimise travel where it is necessary to a Tier 3 area.
‘And so we have taken this action to try to protect people and to try to slow the spread of this virus and that is absolutely the right thing to do.’
He did not directly answer Mr Hunt’s questions.
In tier three, people are not supposed to travel out of the area unless absolutely necessary to reduce the number of journeys being taken on public transport.
London’s new rules are also disastrous for the hospitality sector, which will be limited to only take-aways and deliveries as venues were during lockdown.
The changes come as London’s seven-day case rose in 32 local authority areas compared to the previous week, according to Mayor Sadiq Khan, who wrote a letter to the Prime Minister urging him to close schools early for Christmas.
In 17 of those boroughs, the seven-day rate until December 9 was more than 200 per 100,000 people.
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