Coronavirus: 'London-only lockdown' was considered by government

Mat HancockImage source, House of Commons
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The government considered "having a London-specific lockdown, and decided that it was better to do it across the country as a whole," Matt Hancock said.

A London-specific lockdown was considered before strict measures were introduced to tackle coronavirus nationwide, the health secretary said.

Matt Hancock told the Health Committee on Friday that limits on daily life may have been introduced in London first.

London has seen 25% of the UK's total coronavirus deaths, but accounts for only 13% of the population.

The government eventually decided separating off London would affect "national unity," Mr Hancock said.

"It was better to do it across the country as a whole," the health secretary said.

"And that's for two reasons. The first is that if you put a lockdown in one part of the country, then there's still travel from there to the rest of the country, so it isn't as easy as that.

"The second reason is that actually one of the really strong things that's come through this crisis is that the country is acting in lockstep."

He said that the UK had "come together" in response to the social distancing measures.

Image source, Reuters
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London's green spaces have seen large numbers of visitors during the lockdown

Strict limits on daily life - such as requiring people to stay at home, shutting many businesses and preventing gatherings of more than two people - were introduced on 23 March, as the government tried to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Some countries have decided to implement different lockdown measures in different areas.

About three out of four citizens in the United States are now under some form of lockdown.

While President Trump has declared a national state of emergency, state governments have been responsible for setting their own social distancing guidelines.

Susan Hall, Leader of the Greater London Authority Conservatives, said the government made the right decision to introduce a nationwide lockdown.

"While London is the worst-hit area in the country, our city is not isolated, and the virus as we know does not stop at borders," she said.

The Mayor of London's office has been contacted for comment.