United Kingdom

Sadiq Khan calls for Londoners to wear masks at all times OUTDOORS

Sadiq Khan today asked for face coverings to be made compulsory in outside spaces because he thinks the virus could be spread by people queuing too closely together.

Data has shown coronavirus cases in the capital are falling but the London mayor said he can't take his dog Luna out for walks in the park because there are too many people there.

The number of walkers in the capital has risen by 20 per cent since the first lockdown in April last year - from 80 per cent below the baseline to just 60 per cent below it today, according to Apple's mobility figures. Meanwhile, there are also more people using their cars in the capital compared to the first lockdown. 

It comes as some 7,332 patients are currently staying overnight in London hospitals - a reduction of 250 yesterday - as coronavirus cases falls in London, with nearly 29,000 fewer confirmed cases each week.

Seventeen boroughs saw falls in confirmed cases of at least a third in the week to January 16, with the biggest drop of 43.7 per cent in Bexley. Graphs on the Government dashboard show a clear dip in the number of hospital admissions, positive tests and deaths from the virus.

Yesterday, the UK recorded another 37,892 infections, but that was down more than a fifth on last Thursday. There were another 1,290 deaths but that was up just 3.4 per cent on the same day last week, suggesting the rate might be slowing. 

Photographs show workers filling trains on the London Underground this morning as crowds rushed through Tube stations on their way to work

Traffic appeared to be heavy on the Blackwall Tunnel southern approach road in South East London this morning, with TomTom congestion data at 21 per cent at 7am, and 23 per cent at 8am

Yesterday, congestion data reached 29 per cent at the 5pm rush hour as Londoners headed home despite lockdown restrictions urging employers to allow staff to work from home. Pictured, heavy traffic at the Blackwall Tunnel today

The London Mayor said he no longer takes his dog Luna out for walks in the park because there are too many people there. Meanwhile there are more people are using their cars in the capital compared to the first lockdown

Congestion in the capital has more than doubled, according to figures by Tom Tom, from 10 per cent in April 2020 to 22 per cent today. 

Traffic appeared to be heavy on the Blackwall Tunnel southern approach road in South East London this morning, with TomTom congestion data at 21 per cent at 7am, and 23 per cent at 8am. 

Yesterday, congestion data reached 29 per cent at the 5pm rush hour as Londoners headed home despite lockdown restrictions urging employers to allow staff to work from home.

The congestion level represents the extra travel time for drivers on average compared to baseline uncongested conditions - so a 29 per cent level means a 30-minute trip will take about nine minutes more than with no traffic. 

Photographs show workers filling trains on the London Underground this morning as crowds rushed through Tube stations on their way to work. Last week Transport for London urged large employers to stagger shifts to enable those who have to travel to work to do so in the quieter times.

Meanwhile, the Mayor said if people were going to be 'cheek by jowl' they needed to wear face coverings, even if they are outside.

Last week Transport for London urged large employers to stagger shifts to enable those who have to travel to work to do so in the quieter times

The official figure for Londoners dying within 28 days of a positive test stood at 11,882 last night and Mr Khan said he couldn't understand why the Government's restrictions weren't tighter. Pictured, commuters at Canada Water

The UK recorded another 37,892 infections yesterday, but that was down more than a fifth on last Thursday. There were another 1,290 deaths but that was up just 3.4 per cent on the same day last week, suggesting the rate might be slowing. Pictured, commuters at Canada Water underground station

Travel volumes on the network are higher than they were last spring, during the first national lockdown, and TfL launched a campaign last Monday to encourage customers to use the network at quiet times. Pictured, drivers in London this morning

He was pictured wearing a face covering on his way to an interview on LBC's James's O'Brien show this morning, where he said: 'More than 12,000 Londoners have now lost their life because of this awful pandemic.' 

The official figure for Londoners dying within 28 days of a positive test stood at 11,882 last night and Mr Khan said he couldn't understand why the Government's restrictions weren't tighter.  

It has been compulsory to wear face coverings on Tubes and buses since last June, and Mr Khan added: 'I have stopped walking my dog in the park because it's so busy.' He went on to reveal the number of London bus drivers to die from coronavirus had risen to 38 - meaning more than 60 London transport staff have died in the pandemic.  

The number of walkers in the capital rose by 20 per cent since the first lockdown in April last year - from 80 per cent below the baseline to just 60 per cent below it today

It comes as congestion in the capital has more than doubled, according to figures by Tom Tom, from 10 per cent in April 2020 to 22 per cent today (pictured)

Today he visited the London Ambulance Service where he said he was 'really worried' about NHS workers being stretched as they tackled the virus on the frontline. 

It comes after builders were left angry by construction sites changing shift times, meaning they now have to pay more to travel at peak times and won't get home until late in the evening - causing problems with childcare. 

Among them was Jefe Cortez, who tweeted: 'TfL, can you explain to me why my site has told me I can't start work until 9.30am to comply with your new guidelines that say construction workers aren't allowed on the trains during certain times in the morning?  

'F***ing disgraceful. How am I supposed to help my wife look after my children in the evenings if I'm not getting home until 8.30pm every night?'

Which companies and groups has Transport for London contacted? 

Transport for London said it had 'urgently contacted large employers in the area' of East London to urge them to stagger shifts and operating hours to help ease overcrowding issues on the Underground. The companies it has contacted are as follows:

TfL also contacted the following: 

MailOnline contacted Amazon, Sainsbury's, Wickes, Tate and Lyle, City Airport and Royal Docks for comment.

A Sainsbury's spokesman said: 'A very small number of our colleagues work in the area and have staggered shift patterns due to the nature of their roles. We have further support in place for colleagues to help them work flexibly and to travel during quieter times.'

A source at City Airport said most staff are operational and start their shift before 6am, with the majority currently travelling in by private car and the airport issuing TfL's advice to its employees on a regular basis.

Tate and Lyle is thought to have about 200 staff in work across two factories, down from a normal figure of 850 - although most of those travelling to work are shift workers and do not travel during the morning rush hour.

Another worker said: 'Today started well. Now I'm [angry] over my working hours being changed cos of Covid. All the construction industry are changing start times. So now instead of travelling into work off peak. I now have to travel at peak times. I give up.'

Since Monday of last week, construction employees are now among the workers able to get regular rapid lateral flow tests for coronavirus which return results within 30 minutes, even if they don't have any symptoms. 

Jubilee line trains in East London were busy today as photographs showed commuters at Canada Water Underground Station waiting for an east bound train.   

It comes after shocking video footage taken at West Ham station last week showed commuters piling onto the Jubilee line, with concerns mounting over passengers being unable to socially distance at pinch points. 

Nick Dent, London Underground's director of line operations, told MailOnline: 'We are doing everything we can to help ensure those who need to travel for legally permitted reasons are able to do so safely and maintain social distancing, including targeted communications to encourage people to travel at quiet times. 

'West Ham and Canning Town are the busiest stations on our network early in the mornings, and we are working with Newham Council to look at how working patterns in the borough could be changed to help ease any crowding during busy times.  

'We have also urgently contacted large employers in the area including Amazon, Sainsbury's and Royal Docks to urge them to stagger shifts and operating hours to enable those who have to travel to work to do so in the quieter times.

'In addition, we have sent advice to business groups, and to construction companies and the supply chain through Build UK. We are regularly meeting with the trade unions to work together and respond to their concerns around this issue.'

British Transport Police officers are at stations to ensure passengers are wearing face masks, and commuters are being urged to travel at the quietest times – between 8.15am and 4pm and after 5.30pm on weekdays.

Travel volumes on the network are higher than they were last spring, during the first national lockdown, and TfL launched a campaign last Monday to encourage customers to use the network at quiet times. 

Signage, announcements and one-way systems are being used in stations to help passengers maintain social distancing, and customers are urged to check before they travel for any delays or cancellations to services. 

TfL added that ridership has been falling week on week during the current lockdown regulations, and it has spoken with Newham Council about further changes to change working patterns and help cut down on crowding.

Union bosses have already called for construction sites in Central London to stagger start times for workers, amid fears they could be putting themselves at risk by commuting on overcrowded tube trains. 

Aslef, Britain's main trade union for train drivers, also threatened to shut train stations 'unless these pinch points are dealt with' to ease congestion on the underground network as more people return to work.

Canning Town and West Ham have been a focal point for congestion, with both operating as interchanges for the Docklands Light Railway, and Canning Town being a terminus for many bus routes across the wider area.

Unions have raised concerns about overcrowding at the stations amid growing calls from Unite for construction sites in the capital to stagger start times or the congestion charge to be suspended for their workers. 

Some builders have been left angry by construction sites changing shift times, meaning they now have to pay more to travel

London's Covid-19 cases per 100,000 in the week ending January 16

Hillingdon 720.8

Barking and Dagenham 919.7

Barnet 648.4

Bexley 638.8

Brent 910

Bromley 527.2

Camden 426.3

Croydon 779.7

Ealing 892.9

Enfield 736.4

Greenwich [note 2] 713.3

Hackney 650.9

Hammersmith and Fulham 571.5

Haringey 669.7

Harrow 672.5

Havering 671.2

 Hillingdon 720.8 

Hounslow 927

Islington 525.8

Kensington and Chelsea 450.3

Kingston upon Thames 428.7

Lambeth 696.6

Lewisham 658.2

Merton 675.4

Newham 895.4

Redbridge 766.7

Richmond upon Thames 333.3

Southwark 642

Sutton 667.3

Tower Hamlets 712.6

Waltham Forest 748.4

Wandsworth 537.2

Westminster 442 

But questions remain over how staggered start times for workers would work - especially when sites are bound by strict rules set by local authorities over the hours they are allowed to operate. 

Councils normally impose limits on noisy works that would be audible to neighbours of Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and Saturdays from 8am to 1pm, with none allowed on Sundays and bank holidays.

Forty chief executives of London's biggest contractors met with Government officials in an emergency summit last Friday to discuss the problem, with ministers saying they are doing their upmost to keep workers safe.

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain told MailOnline: 'While the construction industry remains open as sanctioned by the government, workers will have to travel to the sites they work on.

'In Central London, where many sites are located, public transport at present is the only viable way to get to work. Sites in Central London need to introduce staggered start times. 

'Other options that could be introduced are the suspension of the congestion charge for workers on London construction sites and allocated free parking spaces for construction workers. 

'Unite is willing to work with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Transport for London, construction industry employers and other stakeholders to explore these possible options in the continuing battle to reduce Covid-19 infection rates.'

And Finn Brennan, Aslef's district organiser for the London Underground, told BBC London: 'I don't think anyone gets on the Jubilee line at 7am in the morning for the laughs.

'The problem is there are people who have no other choice besides going to work, they don't have the option of working from home, they don't have the option of furlough, and there are some locations where people are coming onto the Underground all at the same time in the morning, when for the rest of the day the system's actually really quiet.

'The problem is, unless these pinch points are dealt with, then we are going to have to see services withdrawn and stations closed, because people are travelling in a way that is not safe for them, and is also not safe for the staff who have to deal with them and would have to deal with any incidents.'       

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