Fewer than one in five people working in U.K. cities had returned to the office by the end of July, new figures show. The Government is said to be disappointed by this news, but it hasn’t exactly led by example on the matter, with, for example, the Department of Health and Social Care having scrapped its timetable requiring civil servants to be in offices for up to eight days a month from September. The Guardian has the story.
A report from the Centre for Cities thinktank said worker footfall in 30 big cities stood at an average of just 18% of pre-pandemic levels in the immediate aftermath of most Covid laws being scrapped in England.
The biggest migration of workers back to the office has occurred in Brighton, with 49% of people having returned to their desks, a rise of 6% on the previous week. This was followed by Gloucester (39%), Southend (38%) and York (37%).
Cities where only a fraction of workers have gone back to the office include Glasgow, with an 8% figure – the city has had Covid restrictions in force for longer, given Scotland’s slower easing than England – followed by London and Oxford (15%) and Sheffield and Milton Keynes (16%).
Daytime worker footfall fell by 1% in the final week of July compared with the previous seven days, and on average was running at barely half the pre-Covid levels.
Paul Swinney, Director of policy at Centre for Cities, said it showed there remained significant reluctance among some workers to head back to the office in the “largest and most economically important cities”.
He said that the “sandwich economy” that catered to city-centre office workers was facing “an uncertain future” as the end of the furlough scheme in September came closer. …
The Centre for Cities’ report also found a mixed picture for the recovery of nightlife across the country.
Blackpool had a 50% increase in night-time footfall as clubbers in the north of England and the Midlands demonstrated the greatest desire to take advantage of the lifting of lockdown rules.
The strongest recoveries in overall footfall after Blackpool were in Sunderland (37%) and Leicester, Middlesbrough and Wakefield (all 32%). Bars, restaurants and clubs in the big metropolitan centres in the north and Midlands – Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle – also saw hefty increases in activity.
By contrast, night-time footfall in London, Luton and Slough, remained unchanged since clubs reopened and social distancing rules were removed.
Overall, the thinktank found an average 16% increase in footfall in 63 towns and cities across the U.K. in the period after July 19th. Only Blackpool and Bournemouth had seen footfall return to pre-pandemic levels, and the Centre for Cities said each was getting a temporary boost from people in the U.K. having holidays at home.
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