London mayor: More COVID-19 restrictions inevitable
London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Saturday declared a “major incident” due to the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and said further pandemic-related restrictions are inevitable.
Khan said that London has seen the highest jump in new cases since the pandemic began — over 26,000 on Saturday — and the omicron variant is now the dominant strain in the city.
“Hospital admissions are going up, but also staff absences are going up by a massive level,” Khan told the BBC. “So I’ve taken the decision in consultation with our partners to declare a major incident today.”
A major incident is any emergency that calls for special arrangements by either one or all emergency services, the BBC noted. This declaration signals that hospitals and emergency services can no longer provide a normal level of response.
Khan previously declared a major incident in January of this year due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, with the declaration lasting until the end of February.
When questioned about the possibility of more restrictions, Khan said, “I think it’s inevitable.”
“I think if we don’t bring in new restrictions sooner rather than later, you’re going to see even more positive cases and potentially public services like the NHS on the verge of collapse, if not collapsing,” he said. “I think we should be able to celebrate Christmas safely. But I think sooner rather than later we’re going to look at social distancing, we’re going to have to look at household mixing.”
On Saturday, thousands of Londoners demonstrated against pandemic-related restrictions, clashing with police and protesting immunizations. As Sky News reported, supporters of former President Trump also appeared to be in attendance, with some seen waving pro-Trump flags.
The U.K.’s health minister, Sajid Javid, also warned on Sunday that more restrictions could not be ruled out.
“There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don’t think,” Javid told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. “At this point we just have to keep everything under review.”