London Underground Shuts 40 Stations over Coronavirus

Commuters wear masks as a precaution whilst travelling on a London Underground metro train in the morning in central London on March 18, 2020 as people take precautions amid the coronavirus outbreak. - The British government will on Wednesday unveil a raft of emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus …
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Transport for London (TfL) has announced that up to 40 stations on the London Underground will be closed to curtail travel in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus.

The night tube and bus services will also be reduced in the capital, where it is spreading faster than in any other part of the country. Other public transport services will also be on limited services, including the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), TfL Rail, London Overground, and the south London Tram network.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had asked Britons to self-isolate and work from home if possible. However, one key worker commuting on the Underground told the BBC that it seemed “a lot busier” on the Tubes than earlier in the week, saying: “It didn’t feel like people were staying at home.”

There have been 900 confirmed cases of the China-origin virus in London, with fatalities in the capital reaching 34. The virus’s spread in the city is weeks ahead of other parts of the country, and on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Johnson would not rule out enforcing a curfew on Londoners, putting the city into lockdown.

The government is preparing to pass emergency legislation on coronavirus which includes increasing police powers to detain those suspected of having the virus who refuse testing or isolation, as well as the power to shut down venues for public safety.

Recent reports have suggested that London could go into lockdown by this weekend. One source close to London Mayor Sadiq Khan told The Telegraph in a report published on Wednesday: “We expect a shutdown of London, but nobody in central Government is saying when that will be or what form it will take.”

Mr Johnson is set to chair another meeting of the national emergency COBRA meeting on Thursday to discuss proposals amidst concerns that people in London are not following the government’s advice, reports The Times. Such measures could include forcing pubs, cafes, and restaurants to close.

“This is not about arresting people on the street,” a government source told the newspaper of record. “This is about some simple measures to ensure that the current public health guidance is followed.”

On Thursday morning, however, a government spokesman told media that there is “zero prospect” of restrictions being put on travel in and out of London.

“There are no plans to close down the transport network in London and there is zero prospect of any restrictions being placed on travelling in and out of London,” the spokesman said.

Aside from TfL’s decision to shut some 40 stations, the government also said that it would not forcibly shut down London’s public transport system.

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