Downing Street will not put London into a lock down like other capitals, despite Boris Johnson suggesting ‘further and faster measures’ to stop the spread.
Downing Street said there was ‘zero prospect’ of a ban on travelling in and out of the capital, but with some in the city still ignoring advice about socialising in bars and restaurants and continuing to travel, Number 10 and mayor Sadiq Khan suggested further restrictions could be imposed on Londoners.
Khan was holding talks with the prime minister and senior officials on Thursday amid concerns about the NHS in London being put under intense pressure unless the spread of Covid-19 could be suppressed.
Number 10 rejected the prospect of draconian ‘lockdown’ restrictions of the type imposed on residents of cities including Paris and Milan.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: ‘There are no plans to close down the transport network in London and there is zero prospect of any restrictions being placed on travelling in or out of London.’
The spokesman said Johnson and his advisers had set out the need for ‘social distancing’ measures to limit the spread of the virus to protect lives.
‘What we are focused on is ensuring that as many people as possible take that advice and don’t unnecessarily put themselves in the position where they could be spreading coronavirus,’ the spokesman said.
Asked if pubs and some shops could be ordered to close, the spokesman said: ‘We do want people to follow the advice which we have given in relation to limiting unnecessary social contact.’
Senior officials in government insisted that the kind of measures banning travel which have been imposed in France and Italy would not be coming to the UK.
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‘There is not going to be any point where there are border guards stood around London saying ‘you can’t come in or out’,’ a source said.
‘That’s not the sort of country we are.’