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  • London could be placed into coronavirus lockdown within days.
  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed plans by the UK government to impose "stringent measures" imminently.
  • Multiple reports suggest strict restrictions on public gatherings will be imposed in the capital.
  • Downing Street sources deny any lockdown will take place before Friday.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za. 

London could be placed into lockdown within days as the number of coronavirus cases in the capital continues to rise well above the rest of the United Kingdom.

Under the plans currently under consideration by UK officials, pubs and restaurants could be closed and heavy restrictions placed on movement by the public.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is regularly briefed on the UK government's plans to tackle the coronavirus, revealed on Wednesday that the UK government will announce "more stringent measures" for London imminently.

London mayor Sadiq Khan also announced on Wednesday that the city's public transport network would be scaled back with 40 stations closed across the city.

On Thursday the UK government will bring forward emergency legislation giving the UK authorities powers to shut down pubs and restaurants, "restrict or prohibit events and gatherings" and limit activity in "any place, vehicle, train, vessel or aircraft."

Both the Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph newspapers report that such drastic measures will likely be rolled out first in the capital, where the number of coronavirus cases is racing ahead of the rest of the UK.

The FT reported that the restrictions could initially last for a matter of weeks and involve: "Only one person allowed to leave home at a time, with no entry to local shopping areas. Supermarkets would be guarded by police, while pharmacies would be among the few other shops to remain open."

A UK government source told Business Insider on Wednesday that a London lockdown would not take place on Thursday but declined to say whether one would take place later this week.

However, another UK government source told the Mirror that a lockdown in the capital, in which travel and mass gatherings could be restricted by authorities was "imminent."

The Daily Telegraph also reported sources suggesting tough new restrictions were coming for the UK capital by the weekend.

Around a third of all COVID-19 cases in the UK have been identified in the capital where anecdotal reports suggest that many people continue to disregard advice not to visit bars and restaurants.

Two sources close to London's Mayor Sadiq Khan told Business Insider that he had not been consulted about any lockdown.

"We haven't heard anything from them about this," one said.

"Maybe Downing Street don't know [when this will happen]."

Asked about rumours of a lockdown, the prime minister said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that "We will not hesitate to bring forward further and faster measures if we think that's necessary."

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