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London could be the first one to see some aspects of normal life return to normal after it was revealed the capital has the lowest coronavirus infection rate in the country. Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, said it was “right that we focus on safely reopening the capital”.
The decision could be influenced by the R rate, the figure that shows the rate of transmission of the virus.
The lower the R rate is, the lesser the risk of contagion, and the national R rate has remained stable between 0.7 and 1 for the second week in a row, according to data published by the government’s scientific advisers.
A spokesman for Boris Johnson said: “As we are able to gather more data and have better surveillance of the rate of infection in different parts of the country, then we will be able to potentially lift measures quicker in some parts of the country than in others.
“Equally, we will be able to put the brakes on in some parts of the country while not having to do so in other parts.”
However, a Downing Street source said there were no set plans to ease the lockdown in some parts of the country before than others.
They added that London was unlikely to be given preference and that the prime minister supported the idea of lifting the restrictions everywhere at the same time.
The news comes as 351 people died in the 24 hours up leading up to 5pm yesterday, the Department of Health has revealed.
This morning the government and City Hall announced a London Transition Board to help the capital to ease its lockdown and restart its economy.
The board, co-chaired by Mr Jenrick and Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, will operate until the end of 2020.
“Now we are past the peak it is right that we focus on safely reopening the capital, taking the necessary steps to control the virus,” Mr Jenrick said.
“We will carefully build on the extensive planning already under way to get life and business in London — the most dynamic capital city in the world — safely back on track.”
City Hall, which comprises the mayor and the London Assembly, said the panel would supervise areas such as infection control, phasing in and out of lockdown and overseeing the impact on public services such as transport.
Mr Khan said that the “recovery will be a long and complex road that will take many months, if not years.
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“We are not being complacent about the continued threat from coronavirus, but the economic, health and social challenges arising from both the virus itself and from the lockdown are far-reaching.
“As mayor, I am committed to securing a better future for Londoners.
“The city’s recovery from Covid-19 must ensure that nobody is left behind, and no one organisation or sector can tackle these challenges alone.
“The measures announced today plan to bring together local government, civil and civic society, faith organisations, business, unions and Londoners themselves to reshape London as a city that remains open, safe and attractive for Londoners, visitors and investors.”
Mr Jenrick supported his focus on listing the lockdown safely for everyone.
He said: “I want to thank all of those across London who have worked in partnership with the Government since the start of the pandemic to protect Londoners and keep essential services running.
“Through this new Transition Board, we will carefully build on the extensive planning already underway to get life and business in London – the most dynamic capital city in the world – safely back on track.”
The prime minister’s spokesman minimised claims that the government had effectively absorbed control of London by creating the panel and said it was “part of sensible planning”.
Mr Khan and the head of London Councils will lead a separate committee, a cross-party association that represents the city’s 32 borough councils and the City of London, in charge of supervising London’s social and economic restoration.
Mr Khan echoed repeated claims yesterday that he intended to make face masks compulsory within London’s public transport network.
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