ONDON (Reuters) – It is premature to write off big cities such as London which will bounce back strongly as the pandemic wanes, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday after unveiling a plan that will keep offices deserted for months more.
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a sweeping reassessment of urban life and work, with some predicting that the world’s premier financial centres such as New York, London, Shanghai and Tokyo could seep capital and talent and ultimately decline.
Counting houses and skyscrapers across London’s skyline — from the hedge funds of Mayfair and the lawyers’ chambers of Holborn to the trading floors of the City and Canary Wharf — have emptied during almost a year of restrictions.
Big banks, law firms and investment funds sent all but a skeleton staff home months ago, leaving one of the world’s biggest global financial capitals without its bustle.
Shoe shops, coffee bars and pubs stand closed across the financial district, some permanently.
Asked by reporters if Britain’s biggest cities needed a Marshall Plan to survive, Johnson said COVID-19 would accelerate some trends, opening up space for more residential accommodation.