Rough sleepers are set to be given beds in central London hotels to help protect them against coronavirus.
A trial was due to start this weekend offering 300 rooms to vulnerable people known to homelessness charities.
The Mayor of London’s office is working with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) to block book rooms at a discounted rate for the next 12 weeks in the hope that they will provide “vital protection” for rough sleepers who need to self-isolate.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “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.
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“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.
“Together, as a city, we will come through this incredibly challenging period.”
Rough sleepers are more likely to have underlying health conditions – including respiratory problems – than the wider population.
They are also less likely to be able to follow Public Health England’s advice on self-isolation, social distancing and hand-washing.
The mayor’s office said it plans to continue to support a range of partners including London’s boroughs and the Ministry of Housing to identify and help other rough sleepers.
Petra Salva, director of rough sleeping services at St Mungo’s homeless charity, said teams are working round the clock to support people during the “unprecedented crisis.”