Mayor Sadiq Khan this morning briefed the London Assembly with the cheery words ‘I must warn Londoners there’s a dark winter ahead…’ before announcing that London will move from Tier One to Tier Two lockdown from midnight tomorrow. This will effectively ban households mixing indoors anywhere in the capital, while the public will be discouraged from using public transport. Schools, universities and places of worship will remain open and businesses, pubs and restaurants can continue to operate. But it’s a huge blow to Londoners, and (once again) to the hospitality industry.

London feels like the little girl standing outside the haunted house in a horror movie. As soon as Boris announced the three tiers system on Monday it was simply inevitable that she’d plunge straight in, never to be seen again. The new new normal is a real setback, but don’t worry; we’re going into that haunted house with you every step of the way. Here’s what’s changed…

FFS, so what does this mean?

Boris Johnson, flanked by Professor Chris Whitty and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, took to the podium on Monday to roll out a new system of Tiers, ranked from Medium Risk, to High Risk to Very High Risk. Each tier comes with a set of increased restrictions.

London now moves from Tier One (Medium Risk – basically like it was before) to Tier Two (High Risk – less fun) and with it households are curtailed from meeting indoors.

London now goes from Tier One (Medium Risk) to Tier Two (High Risk) and with it households are curtailed from meeting indoors.

Worrabout the pub?

SO, you can continue to go to the pub, providing they remain open, and all hospitality will be allowed to operate as before.

Great! Pint?

Not so fast. Are you in my household?

You’re kidding, right?

Nope. This is the massive kicker here. That ‘meeting indoors’ proviso means that you can only go to the pub or restaurant with those in your household or support bubble (remember them?). This particularly sucks if you live alone. Or, indeed, if you run a restaurant without outside space (let’s face it, it sucks if you do have outside space too) because table sizes will be hugely diminished and most people go out for a drink or meal to socialise with friends and family that they don’t live with. Which, to be fair, is probably the whole objective of the restriction!

And don’t forget that even outside the ‘rule of six’ still applies while outside, while 10pm curfew is also still active.

Can I stay in a hotel outside London?

Yes, actually. You’re fine to travel to hotels and staycate to your heart’s content. But you can’t mix with other households and you can’t go on holiday to a Tier 3 (Very High) area.

Here are some suggestions…

Could we go down a tier?

In theory, sure. London will be plunged into Tier Two measures because we’ve passed more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 Londoners. So if we manage to get the virus under control here then there’s a chance we could drop out of Tier Two measures.

Oooh, that could work?

Yeah, but it ain’t gonna happen. Of all the regions that have been placed in stricter restrictions, nobody has ever come out of them! The best we can hope for seems to be a slower spread of the coronavirus.

Well you’re a buzz kill…

Let’s all appreciate just how crap this situation is. But also that it could get significantly worse! In terms of the spread, if we don’t get a handle on things then it’s likely we’ll head into Tier Three, as Greater Manchester just has. This would see all hospitality closed and effectively look like lockdown, but with schools and shops remaining open.

Can I still go to work?

Yes, but we’re being advised to avoid public transport and the advice remains to ‘work from home if you can’. This is down to individual companies, and of course it goes without saying that workplaces should be fully COVID-secure…

Fine. How long will this last?

The tiering legislation renews every four weeks, so we’re in this state until well into November. But it’s seriously unlikely they’ll do anything other than toughen the measures unless they somehow work.

What about a ‘circuit break’?

Sadiq has been lobbying ministers to enact a national two week lockdown. The policy, backed by Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer, would see Britain put into a severe lockdown, probably timed to coincide with school half term at the end of October. The government have said that all options ‘remain on the table’, and the outcome of the current Northern Ireland circuit break will presumably be studied very closely.

So when does this nightmare start?

Midnight tomorrow, Friday 16th October.

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