London is heading into Tier 3 from midnight on Wednesday, MPs have been told by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Under the current three-tier system, Tier 3 is the strictest set of coronavirus regulations, meaning that once again hospitalty, including restaurants and bars, will be shut down except for takeaway and collection services.
London was expected to move into Tier 3 later this week, with a review of the allocation of tiers nationwide due on Wednesday.
However, with coronavirus rates increasing in every London borough, and 17 boroughs having over 200 cases per 100,000 people, the move has been accelerated.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned the Government that moving London to Tier 3 would have “catastrophic” consequences and called for schools across the capital to be closed.
Khan said: “It would be such a tragedy to lose even more people to this disease when the vaccine is now being rolled out across our city.
“We know from bitter experience that when cases start to rise quickly, it’s much better to act early, rather than too late. This is how we can avoid even tougher restrictions, for longer, further down the road.
“The worst thing for London’s businesses and our economy would be yet another full lockdown in the new year. That’s why I urge Londoners to follow the Tier 3 rules that the Government is putting in place very closely so that we can drive down infection rates as much as possible.
“We now urgently need much more government support for the sectors of our economy that are being hit the hardest, including hospitality, culture, and leisure.
“It is crucial that Ministers urgently put in place a compensation scheme for all lost income, based on last year’s returns, for any businesses affected by the further restrictions during this crucial festive period.
“The Government should consider asking secondary schools and colleges which don’t yet have testing facilities to close early and to reopen a bit later in January to allow time for weekly testing to be put in place.
“The vaccine provides some light at the end of the tunnel, so let’s not fall at what could be the last hurdle. So I’d encourage all Londoners to adhere to the new Government rules so that we can save as many lives as possible, support our NHS and protect our economy.”
Under current restrictions, people must not meet indoors with people outside their household or bubble.
That will now be extended to include private gardens and most outdoor public venues, although the “rule of six” will still apply in public gardens or parks.
The move also means theatres will have to close, fans will likely be banned from sporting venues, and all indoor entertainment venues must also close.