Enfield Council’s leader has claimed residents and businesses are now “paying the price” for the Government’s failure to lock down earlier.

Cllr Nesil Caliskan said an extended period of restrictions could have been avoided if ministers had agreed a two-week national “circuit breaker” lockdown in October, as she and others, including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, had called for.

London enters Tier 2 today (Wednesday) after emerging from the national lockdown. It means non-essential businesses can reopen with safeguards in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Separate households are banned from mixing indoors unless they form a support bubble, but they can meet outdoors in groups of up to six people.

Some rules are stricter than the previous Tier 2 measures. Pubs and restaurants must close unless they are operating as restaurants, and hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.

Cllr Caliskan said: “The new Government restrictions are what they are, and we will all have to do our best to stay safe during these testing times.

“Sadly, the country is having to experience an extended period of restriction because the Government refused to take the short, two-week circuit break back in October like I and others across the country, including scientific experts, advised. Now Enfield residents and local businesses will be paying the price.

“I know life has been gruelling over the last nine months, but I continue to urge Enfield’s residents to be safe so that we can stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“Alongside supporting residents as much as we can during this Covid period, Enfield Council is also focusing at the moment on assessing the impact of the Government’s spending review, which has not met our needs or adequately covered the costs we have incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”

READ MORE: Tier 2 Covid lockdown welcome but may not be enough - council leader

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the national lockdown on October 31, he said he still believed the previous “local and regional approach” to tackling the virus had been the right thing to do because of the impact of restrictions on jobs, livelihoods and mental health.

He said the Government had not wanted to shut down businesses in parts of the country where incidence of Covid-19 was very low, “when the vast bulk of infections were taking place elsewhere”.

A Government spokesperson said: “We have been transparent about the rationale behind the approach we’ve taken throughout the pandemic and have been clear the Government’s primary duty is to save lives and to protect the NHS, whilst keeping our children in school and protecting people’s jobs and livelihoods.

“Our Covid-19 Winter Plan puts forward the UK Government’s programme for suppressing the virus and providing a route back to normality.”

More information on the Tier 2 restrictions is available here.