May 23, 2020

London could see coronavirus lockdown lifted earlier as Number 10 moves to take control of process – Telegraph.co.uk

London could see coronavirus lockdown lifted…

London could come out of lockdown “quicker” than other parts of the country after Boris Johnson moved to take over control of the capital’s coronavirus response from its Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

A task force has been set up to “restart” London’s economy and will be jointly chaired by Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, and Mr Khan.

It is the first time the Government has set up a separate body to oversee lockdown measures in a specific part of the country, suggesting that Mr Johnson is moving to a “London first” approach to easing restrictions.

London has a lower rate of virus infection than other parts of the country and, with the south-east region, accounts for 40 per cent of GDP – making it vital to economic recovery.

The most recent figures also show that, on some days, the city is recording no new cases of the virus.

Asked whether London would come out of lockdown first, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Without talking about a specific part of the country, what is clear in the plans is that, as we are able to gather more data and have better surveillance of the rate of infection in different parts of the country, we will be able to potentially lift measures quicker in some parts of the country than others.

“We will also be able to put the brakes on more quickly in some parts of the country than others.”

Robert Jenrick will jointly chair the new task force with London's Mayor, Sadiq Khan


Robert Jenrick will jointly chair the new task force with London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan


Credit: PA

Mr Jenrick announced that he will jointly chair a London Transition Board with Mr Khan, which will “co-ordinate London’s response as it emerges from the lockdown and begins to reopen its economy while controlling the virus”.

The Government has, until now, been at pains to say that the country will come out of lockdown as a single entity – but Mr Jenrick’s announcement contained no mention of the rest of the country, suggesting a significant shift.

Mr Khan has been involved in a power struggle with Number 10, with Mr Johnson increasingly getting the upper hand over the man occupying the office he used to hold.

The Mayor was accused of mismanaging the finances of Transport for London after being given a £1.6 billion emergency bailout by the Government to keep Tubes and buses running, and had to agree to increase fares as a condition of being given the money.

Mr Jenrick said: “Now we are past the peak, [of coronavirus] it is right that we focus on safely reopening the capital, taking the necessary steps to control the virus.  

“Through this new Transition Board, we will carefully build on the extensive planning already under way to get life and business in London – the most dynamic capital city in the world – safely back on track.”

The task force will oversee infection control, “phasing in and out of varying levels of lockdown” and “recovery of public services, such as transport”.

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