London’s homeless to be housed in hotels to self-isolate

Shoppers wearing masks walk past a sleeping homeless person along Oxford street in London on March 19. (AP pic)

LONDON: Hundreds of homeless people in London are being housed in hotels to self-isolate and give them “vital protection” from the coronavirus, the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Saturday.

Three hundred rooms have been made available in two hotels for the next 12 weeks, the mayor’s office said in a statement.

“The coronavirus outbreak affects everyone in London and we must do all we can to safeguard everyone’s health – not least those Londoners who face spending each night sleeping rough on the capital’s streets,” said Khan.

“Rough sleepers already face difficult and uncertain lives and I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they, along with all Londoners, are given the best protection possible.”

It is thought the scheme started on Friday night.

Figures from the mayor’s office for last year showed some 1,100 people were sleeping rough on London’s streets at night.

The rough sleepers will be housed at two hotels belonging to the Intercontinental chain and will be transported to their accommodation by drivers of the black cabs, who have volunteered for the task.

The announcement in London comes just after the British government took stronger steps to tackle the virus and ordered premises such as pubs, restaurants and cafes to close.

So far, 177 people have died in the UK from Covid-19.

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