Logo of Good Morning Britain
itv |

Weekdays | 6am-9am

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan reacts to London going into Tier 3

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for non-Covid safe secondary schools to close early in a bid to avoid the spread of coronavirus when children meet with elderly family members over the Christmas period.

Mr Khan appeared on Good Morning Britain and spoke to Piers and Susanna about London going into Tier 3 from Wednesday 16 December.

On his stance about schools closing and the impact it would have on children’s futures, he said: "Nobody wants schools to close. There are Covid-safe schools, these are schools that have asymptomatic mass testing taking place…There are many schools in London that haven’t got the mass testing taking place and they are not Covid-safe."

"What I said to the Government is that the Government should provide urgent guidance to schools and colleges - and we’re not talking about primary schools because the issue isn’t as serious there - to close a few days early before Christmas if they can’t have the mass testing available and then maybe delay the return by a couple of days to ensure mass testing is available. My concern is this, many of these children will be breaking up on Friday and then be hugging and kissing grandma and grandpa next week, and could well pass on the virus to them which could be fatal," he added.

Speaking about the lack of scientific logic behind closing theatres but allowing hairdressing salons to stay open, he explained: "One of my concerns is that the Government is retrofitting solutions based upon these ineffective tiers rather than what is effective. You are absolutely right about the catastrophic impact on hospitality, cultural venues, pubs, bars and restaurants… some of these venues may never reopen.

"Our estimates are that it will cost our economy in December three billion pounds and could lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost. I think the Government has now got itself into a hole because they are stuck with this tiering system… I think the Government has got to not be so dogmatic about the solutions to this problem.”

Asked what he puts the exponential rise in cases in the capital down to, Mr Khan said: "What we have seen is a big increase in the virus, particularly amongst school-age children, despite the heroic efforts of our teachers. The age bracket which has seen the biggest increase is those aged between 10 and 19 and the last week for which we have figures has seen a 75% increase in that age group. Many of these children won’t show symptoms, they will give the virus to each other or to their teachers, they will then go home and pass it on to mum or dad, and that is one of the explanations for the virus spreading."

Asked if he is advising Londoners and the rest of the UK not to follow the relaxation of rules over Christmas and also telling people not to go Christmas shopping, he said: “The Government hasn’t ruled out changing their rules for Christmas. I do think we need a one-nation approach. My message to Londoners is that the rules aren’t mandatory, you don’t have to have three households mixing, you don’t have to give your grandad and grandma a kiss or a hug, keep your windows open, so there is good ventilation, it’s really important that we are cognizant of this virus being deadly and spreading to our older relations. I hope the Government does look at the rules over Christmas in a way that makes sense scientifically. 

"In relation to our shops, the key thing is to shop safely and to shop locally if you can. Nobody wants to see what we have seen in recent days, which is where people haven’t got a face mask on outside shops, busy places, and passing the virus on. My message to Londoners and those across the country is that it is safe to wear a facemask outdoors, even though you are not required to do so, because you wearing a facemask outdoors where it’s busy stops you passing the virus on where you may have it, and other people who may have it passing the virus on to you," he added.

On how likely it is that the Government will change the rules regarding Christmas, he said: “I am afraid they won’t because this Prime Minister will be quite political about it and won’t want to be the Prime Minister that ‘cancels Christmas’. I think he is making a mistake not looking at the rules being changed, because I worry that in January us seeing the virus spreading fast, I worry about the NHS being overwhelmed and I worry about older people who could well have both doses of the vaccine and live a long and fruitful life dying prematurely because of this virus, because of the things we have done over Christmas.”

During the show, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay spoke to Piers and Susanna about whether restrictions should still be eased over Christmas.

Explaining that the government is "trusting families to make decisions" about how they mix at Christmas, Mr Barclay said: "This isn’t about getting rid of all the restrictions we have in place. It’s not going from a Tier 3 to Tier 0. We’re just recognising that over the Christmas period, it is the case that many families will want to be with family members over that period."

"We encourage families to do the minimum that works for them," he added.

Logo of Good Morning Britain
itv |

Weekdays | 6am-9am