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Wimbledon MP urges Government to apply tier system on borough basis

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond has called on the Government to apply its new three-tier system on a borough by borough basis, rather than across the entire capital. 

His comments come ahead of a planned review of England’s tier system on 16 December, which could see some areas face tighter restrictions. 

Almost the whole of the country – except for Cornwall, the Isle of Wight, and the Isles of Scilly – has been placed in the top two tiers. 

Hammond said: “London is a wonderful city full of diverse areas, culture and industry. It is not one single homogenous area.

“The reality is that large swathes of the capital are distinct from each other and with hugely varying social economic characteristics. 

“The increase in testing capacity allows us to look at boroughs both individually and as part of a smaller sub region of London.

“We should use the advances in knowledge of the virus, preventative measures, and testing to apply the most appropriate tier on a borough by borough basis.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan called on Londoners to observe social distancing, self-isolation and mask wearing, amid warnings that the capital should enter Tier 3.  

The seven-day infection rate to 3 December was at more than 200 new cases a week per 100,000 in nine boroughs, prompting fears of a third wave in the New Year. 

Among them was the borough of Kingston upon Thames with a rate of 202.8 per 100,000 of the population. 

Hammond, a former Conservative health minister, has argued strongly against London being placed into Tier 3.

He said: “I do not want restrictions on liberty, but recognise the need for some to control the spread of the virus.

“I argued strongly the case against London being placed in Tier 3 and I am pleased we are not. London is the beating heart of our nation and we need it to return to normal as soon as possible.

“At least in Tier 2 some hospitality can open and businesses can operate albeit with limitations.

“The key is for everyone to follow the rules so that by the New Year there is a realistic prospect of London either being in Tier 1 or exiting tiers.”

The Prime Minister has argued against dividing London into smaller regions with different tiers.

Despite praising its diversity, Boris Johnson told MPs voting on the new three-tier system: “London is held together by a very dense mass transit system, making it difficult to separate one bit of London from another.” 

Hammond said: “Of course people travel around London but very few travel all across or around the whole capital every day.

“Travel patterns are discernible and largely predictable so to use this as the argument to categorise everyone is nonsense.”

Under the current restrictions, Londoners must not socialise in groups of more than six (the rule of six), nor visit anyone that is not in their household in an indoor setting.

Hammond recently declined to comment on three open letters from a Merton councillor in a month and you can read more here.

Featured image credit: Open Government Licence version 1.0

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