London cancels New Year’s Eve night tube as capital becomes England’s Covid hotspot

Londoners fear Tier 3 restrictions by next week after ONS reported the capital has the highest infection rate in England

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The London Underground will not operate its usual night service during New Year’s Eve because of Covid-19, it has been announced.

The transport shutdown has been implemented to stop people from congregating in large groups in central London. The news comes as London faces being placed into tough Tier 3 restrictions with new cases of infection increasing across the capital.

Today, the Office for National Statistics said the infection rate in Greater London is measuring 191.8 per 100,000 people, the highest rate in England.

As such, Transport for London (TfL) bosses confirmed New Year's Eve partygoers will instead have to rely on taxi services and night buses to get home.

The news has dealt a blow to those hoping to celebrate the annual festival which has been severely curtailed by restrictions.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already cancelled the fireworks display on the Thames and instead outlined a scaled down ‘watch at home’ event in its place.

Mr Khan urged residents to stay away from the capital and to behave responsibly.

"I can tell you there will not be fireworks on New Year's Eve this year like in previous years – we simply can't afford to have the numbers of people who congregate on New Year's Eve congregating," he said.

Travel on the London Underground is typically free on New Year's Eve to allow people to get home safely and to ease overcrowding. Londoners are not allowed to meet people from outside their support bubble in pubs and restaurants under current Covid-19 restrictions.

London Underground managing director Andy Lord said: “It’s a near-normal service compared to last Christmas, with the one exception being New Year’s Eve, when we are not planning to run through the night on New Year’s Eve – with the exception of night buses, which will still be available and running.

“We will be operating in effect a normal Thursday night into Friday morning service. The last trains from central London will be between midnight, 00.30am and 1am, which is the same as a normal Thursday evening, and then with a slightly later start-up on New Year’s day.

“That is in conjunction with colleagues at Network Rail and across TfL, so that is surface [rail] and Underground.”

The city's transport network has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic as commuters, tourists and shoppers have used services less frequently.

Last month it was reported TfL still needed billions of pounds in support from the government.

"In the next financial year, we are still going to need considerable government support to cope with the impact of the pandemic," London's Deputy Mayor Heidi Alexander told Reuters.

London received £2.4 billion ($3.188bn) in government support this year, but Ms Alexander said it will need another £2.9bn in 2021.