The United Kingdom’s communications team went into overdrive on Thursday in an attempt to play down fears of a lockdown in London.
Reports of the imminent imposition of tighter restrictions in the capital gained steam after Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at a press conference on Wednesday night, repeatedly refused to deny that such measures were being considered.
“We will rule nothing out and we will certainly wish to consider bringing forward further and faster measures where that is necessary,” Johnson said.
Multiple government sources told CNN on Wednesday that serious conversations about restricting travel in and out of the capital and limiting the city’s transport network were taking place at the highest levels of government.
However, on Thursday morning, the prime minister’s official spokesperson told journalists that there was “zero prospect” of travel restrictions and that the government has “no plans” to shut down the London’s transport network.
Some context: It’s worth remembering that until recently, the closure of schools was not something the government was considering, and that as recently as two weeks ago, the scientific evidence didn’t support stopping mass gatherings such as concerts or music events.
However, British schools will close their gates at the end of this week and as of Monday, mass gatherings will not be supported by emergency workers.
Music festivals have been canceled, West End theaters shuttered and cultural life in the UK is winding down. London’s transport authority closed 40 Tube stations on Thursday and reduced the service frequency on most lines, ostensibly to maintain a baseline service.