Breaking News
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

London will bounce back: Don't write off big cities yet, UK's Johnson says

EconomyFeb 22, 2021 03:48PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Empty offices next to Bank of England are seen as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in London 2/2

By Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (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.

"But you know I don't believe this is going to mean a fundamental change to the way our life in our big cities really works," Johnson, a former mayor of London, said. "Our great cities will bounce back."

He said the paradox was that the better people could talk electronically the more they craved human interaction.

"That I'm sure will come back and I think that London - our great cities - will be full of buzz, and life and excitement again, provided people have confidence about coming back," he said.


As he unveiled his four-stage plan for lifting the restrictions, Johnson cautioned that there would be no "zero COVID world", so people would have to get used to the coronavirus as they have got used to the flu.

But he gave no clear date for an end to working from home -- one of the biggest changes to working practices in decades.

Johnson said the government would review the need for social distancing and face masks in a process that would conclude ahead of Step 4 of the restart plan, which would not come into force before June 21.

"People should continue to work from home where they can," Johnson told parliament.

The temporary end of the office has already forced companies to assess whether they need to pay for vast spaces in central London, while the city's transport system has been pushed towards insolvency by a lack of commuters.

As employers mull ways to cut costs in the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, some employees have been driven to distraction working from home while also home schooling. Some have found it liberating to cut out an expensive commute.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last year that about half its workforce would eventually do their jobs outside the office over the next five to 10 years.

A report by Citi last year found that 24% of occupations in the United States could be performed remotely - and that those occupations employ 52% of the U.S. workforce.

"Before the Industrial Revolution, most people worked from their homes producing the goods and food they needed," Citi said. "The COVID-19 pandemic was able to accelerate the shift to remote working."

London will bounce back: Don't write off big cities yet, UK's Johnson says

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email