Pandemic overview

With ongoing reductions in the infection rates across London, over 2.2M vaccines being administered and the implementation of the national roadmap there is cause for optimism, but we must ensure this doesn’t lead to complacency as we begin to focus on recovery.

New variants continue to be tracked and remain a key factor in easing lockdown restrictions. In London, new neighbourhoods are undertaking surge testing to track these. As restrictions are eased in accordance with the national roadmap, it is vital that we don’t threaten London’s recovery, so the current restrictions need to be properly understood and behaviours are not eased prematurely.

Testing will continue to be a routine part of recovery. NHS Test and Trace is now encouraging firms of any size to register via their testing portal (link below).

  • In the most recent week of complete data, 19 February to 25 February, 5,865 cases were identified in London, a rate of 65 cases per 100,000 population. This compares with 7,803 cases and a rate of 87 for the previous week
  • In the same set of data, 54,676 cases were identified in England as a whole, a rate of 97 cases per 100,000 population. This compares with 69,257 cases and a rate of 123 for the previous week.
  • Up to and including 21 February 2021 1,746,338 people in London had received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 66,471 had received two doses.
  • You can see the full latest epidemiological data here and the latest SCG dashboard is attached.

Government Updates

  • BUDGET: In the 2021 Budget, relief has been extended for businesses on rates and VAT. Other measures include a new ‘restart’ grant to help retail, hospitality and personal care businesses reopen from April and the furlough scheme being extended until the end of September.
  • SURGE TESTING: On 2 March, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced  additional surge testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed to a targeted area within Merton (Wimbledon Park) and Barnet (East Finchley) to monitor and suppress the spread of coronavirus as well as to better understand new variants.
  • VACCINE: PHE have submitted a pre-print report that shows that both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing coronavirus infections among people aged 70 years and over. In the over 80s, the data suggest that a single dose of either vaccine is more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation, around three to four weeks after the jab. There is also evidence which suggests the Pfizer vaccine leads to an 83% reduction in deaths. View the full report here.
  • BUSINESS ACCESS TO TESTING: The Business Secretary, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, wrote to all businesses on 25 Feb to encourage employers with 50 or more employees to register using an online portal for lateral flow testing kits to test their staff that cannot currently work from home, or who will return to the workplace as the economy opens up.  The test kits are free of charge until 30 June 2021 for firms that register by 31 March.  The Department for Health and Social Care will also offer advice and guidance to support setting up testing facilities, along with a list a list of accredited private providers who can organise testing on businesses’ behalf. Companies with fewer than 50 employees can take advantage of community testing for their staff. Register here.

Other news and updates

  • INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: The EU is to propose a personal electronic coronavirus vaccination certificate in an effort to boost travel around the EU. The planned “Digital Green Pass” would provide proof of inoculation, test results of those not yet vaccinated, and information on the holder’s recovery if they had previously had the disease.
  • TOURISM: The BBC reported that parts of the UK reliant on tourism including London have been most affected by the COVID-19 jobs crisis. Around three out of five people who began claiming universal credit at the outset of the pandemic were still doing so six months later, of which London is one of the areas with the highest proportion, the fall in tourism in the city is a key contributor to many job losses.
  • RETAIL: The number of shoppers on the high street jumped last week, as Brits learned the details of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown. The prospect of an end of restrictions boosted confidence and led to a nearly 16% rise in footfall on UK high streets week-on-week. Central London saw footfall rise 16.4 per cent week-on-week. Compared to the same week last year, Central London shopper numbers were down more than 82%.
  • TRAVEL: Commuters are set to be offered flexible season rail tickets as a part of the government’s bid to try and get people back to offices by summer. The new flexi-tickets will reportedly be introduced by 21 June when England COVID-19 restrictions are due to end and could save commuters hundreds of pounds a year.
  • TRAVEL: Rail fares in England and Wales will increase by 2.6% on Monday. The price rise comes despite calls for freezes or even discounts to help attract passengers back to the railways. The government said the additional 1% rise above inflation came on the back of extraordinary public spending to prop up rail services during the pandemic when revenues fell away.

Key links and resources

GLA: – GLA coronavirus news feed

London Councils: – Latest London Councils information and messaging.

Transport for London: – Safer travel guidance and advice.

NHS: – Latest NHS information and advice about COVID-19 including Social distancing, Testing and tracing, Self-isolation and Vaccination.

PHE: – Up to date coronavirus campaigns and resources

Key data sources

UK Government: Official UK Government website for data and insight on Coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes a UK summary, an interactive map of the latest picture across the UK and the ability to view data for a specific area within the UK.

GLA:–COVID-19–cases – A summary of key data for London based on Public Health England daily updated data on confirmed cases of COVID-19-19 and related data published by NHS and Office of National Statistics.

ONS: – Latest data and analysis on COVID-19 in the UK and its effect on the economy and society.