Britain's health secretary has switched London to the second-highest COVID-19 alert level in the UK's three-tier system, meaning the alert level is "high" amid an increase in cases.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock told The House of Commons that the government acted because infection rates are rising rapidly in the capital and rapid action was needed to control the virus.
Under Level 1 restrictions, groups of more than six are not allowed, indoors or outdoors, and pubs, bars and restaurants must close before 10 pm. Under Level 2, people can't socialize indoors with anyone they don't live with, but they can still meet outdoors in groups of up to six people.
The move comes as millions of people in the north of England hope to find out whether they will be placed under the government'S strictest COVID-19 restrictions, which the city of Liverpool already faces.
An overview of a sign encouraging social distancing within the stadium during the FA Cup third qualifying round match between Farsley Celtic and AFC Fylde at The Citadel Stadium on October 13, 2020 in Farsley, England. (Getty)
Essex is also expected to move to Level 2, reports the BBC, and Greater Manchester is expected to move to Level 3, which further restricts meetings even outdoors and puts new rules in restaurants and pubs.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was waiting for the move. Khan told The London Assembly that talks were continuing, but he hoped the authorities would move to London to the second of three risk categories based on "expert Public Health and scientific advice" on what is needed to save lives.
Khan had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeking details on what assistance would be provided to companies and individuals affected by such a move.
"No one wants to see more restrictions," Khan said. "But this is considered necessary to protect the lives of Londoners by myself, the leaders of the London council and ministers."
The mayor of Greater Manchester's Combined Authority, with 2.8 million people, says he expects to meet with Johnson's team on Thursday for talks on whether the region will be classified as a "high risk" area. That is the highest risk category in the government's new three-tier COVID-19 regional strategy and would require restrictions such as closing bars and banning social gatherings outside the home.
The government has said it is also talking to leaders from other parts of northern England, where rates of infection by COVID-19 are higher than other parts of the country.