The city had been rated “medium” (tier 1) in the new three-tier system of local alerts for England. This put London with most of the country at the lowest end of the scale, meaning no new restrictions beyond the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.
However, with infection rates rising towards the 100 per 100,000 trigger point, the capital is now placed in tier 2 – meaning a ban on different households meeting indoors.
Confirming the London change to the House of Commons, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Infection rates are on a steep upward path with the number of cases doubling every 10 days.
“We know from the first peak, the infection can spread fast and put huge pressures on the NHS so we must act now to prevent the need for tougher measures later on.
“So working closely with the mayor, with cross-party council leadership, with local public health officials and the national team, we’ve together agreed that London needs to move to local Covid alert level high.”
Mr Hancock thanked those who work and live in the capital, adding: “We all need to play our part in getting the virus under control once again.”
London MPs took part in a phone call with care minister Helen Whatelyon on Oct 15, where they were told of the plans, which were then confirmed by city mayor Sadiq Khan.
Moving the city up a notch to “high” means mixing between different households or social bubbles is banned indoors, including in homes, pubs and restaurants. Groups of up to six people will still be able to meet outdoors in public spaces and private gardens.
Mr Khan warned Londoners that they face a “difficult winter ahead”, telling the London Assembly that the decision was based on “expert public health and scientific advice” about what is necessary to save lives in the city.