LONDON: Appealing to millions of Londoners to resume normal life, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has asked them to “do our bit” to revive the capital’s powerhouse economy while remaining on guard to keep coronavirus at bay.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, the Chancellor urged more people to return to offices or other workplaces and enjoy the capital’s restaurants, pubs and bars, as well as get back into shops.
As lockdown was due to be eased further tomorrow , including allowing socially distanced indoor theatre and musical performances, Mr Sunak stressed that any steps towards normality needed to be taken while remaining vigilant to the spread of Covid-19.
“Londoners have shown typical resilience throughout the pandemic and it is thanks to your patience, spirit and sacrifice that transmission rates in the capital are at their current low level,” he said.
“We need to keep this up to beat the virus, but we also need to start driving London’s powerhouse economy forward.
“As we’ve seen this week we’ve taken a huge hit, so it’s crucial each of us now starts to do our bit, whether that’s going back to our places of work, shopping in our local area, eating out at our favourite restaurants or enjoying all the wonderful things this great city has to offer.
“And I know that this will be done responsibly and safely with commuters using alternatives to public transport where possible and businesses making offices, restaurants and other public spaces safe and secure, providing the reassurance people need in order to get back to normal as far as possible.”
The Standard has launched a Saving Central London series which has highlighted how tens of thousands of jobs, particularly in the hospitality and retail industries, are under threat because so few workers, tourists and other people are heading into town.
The latest figures from the capital’s hotel, restaurant and pubs reveal the scale of the economic woe.
Hotel analysts STR said occupancy in the capital was the lowest for any month on record in July, falling to 22.8 per cent from 74.8 per cent last year. The Coffer Peach Business Tracker, a leading measure for pubs and restaurants, showed total sales were down 44.7 per cent in July, but London trading was down 58.3 per cent.
GDP figures published earlier this week showed that though Britain has been plunged into recession , the economy has started to rally and ministers want more people to be thinking about heading back to the work, particularly with schools due to fully re-open in September.