The Wandsworth Council of South London has tweeted the alert, asking people to create an emergency plan and fill in useful items such as a flashlight, first aid kit, phone charger and whistle. On Sunday, the authorities said the bag would be within reach “in case you need to flee your home right away without having time to pack your luggage.”

Hundreds of social media users responded to this post, with many saying they were concerned about the alert while others questioned why they had to leave their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Someone said: Wow. What i miss Facing an imminent emergency evacuation due to a hurricane / flood / fire / meteor strike / other?

“Or just frightening everyone for no apparent reason?”

A second person said the council should have “taken into account the concern this might cause some” before publishing the letter.

A third person responded to the post saying, “I am not a anxious person but this is unnecessarily worrisome and it definitely made me think something had happened.”

Others criticized the wording and nature of the emergency warning, with one of them saying she was “bored with all the panic” that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the council should consider people who experienced high levels of anxiety or mental health problems during the lockdown before publishing a message like this to the public.

Tooting’s Labor MP Rosina Allen Khan, a former Wandsworth Council member, agreed that the authority did not provide any context for her message.

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“We are working with our contingency planning team to send you a Tweet daily advising people how to prepare in various situations.”

The panic comes as millions of Londoners prepare for the prospect of tighter restrictions on the Coronavirus this week.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he has prepared a plan with local council leaders and public health experts to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the capital.

Speaking to Sky News Monday evening, the Labor mayor said: “In London we know, unfortunately, that this virus is spreading in our city without showing positive tests because the test in London today is as messy as it was already in March.

“Therefore, we are keen to avoid the second lockdown as we saw in March and April, and we have reached a package of measures, across parties with various London leaders.”

He said the plan included additional rules “to slow the spread of the virus.”

He said London would learn lessons from parts of Northeast and Northwest England that have come under local lockdown.

Mr Khan said he had hoped the Prime Minister would invite him to the emergency Cobra meeting on Tuesday “to discuss additional measures we can take to slow the spread” of COVID-19.

When asked if he would like to see a curfew at 10 pm for bars and restaurants in town, he said: “Time doesn’t matter, there is nothing magical around 10 PM or 11 PM.

“The problem is the amount of hours people spend together where they can be without symptoms and the virus is transmitted.”

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He said his work plan included 15 different measures that affect everyday life in many aspects, from funerals to weddings.