Like the rest of the country, the City of London is feeling a sense of anticipation as England enters the third step of the Government’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions.
The return of indoor hospitality and reopening of cultural institutions is a welcome return to normality that will help the Square Mile regain the exciting and vibrant spirit which draws in workers, visitors and residents.
The City has always been a place where culture, heritage, work and leisure meet. Unfortunately, all these sectors have been some of the hardest hit by the restrictions brought by the pandemic.
It is therefore wonderful to see such institutions as the Barbican, the Museum of London, the London Mithraeum, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London – all of which attract visitors from all over the world – to once more be able to open their doors to the public.
The food and hospitality trades, crucially important in the Square Mile, have also been particularly hard hit by lockdown. So the fact that hotels, restaurants and bars will be able to welcome visitors indoors, for the first time since the start of lockdown, is very encouraging.
Over the next week I will be actively showing my support and visiting some of these businesses to salute their return. I urge people across the City to join me by taking advantage of this safe reopening that has been so long awaited and is a cause for celebration.
But we must not stop here. As we emerge from the pandemic, it will be our priority to set a strong plan which will enable businesses and cultural activities in the City to achieve a sustainable and lasting recovery. In addition, the City Corporation will focus on creating an attractive environment for this ecosystem of commerce and culture to thrive.
In February, a report was published by the Culture and Commerce Taskforce – which I chaired – setting out recommendations to help secure the capital’s creative future and tackle the “cultural catastrophe” caused by the pandemic. As the fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities in the UK, the City of London Corporation invests over £130m every year and we are committed to making sure the creative sector can play a full part in driving forward our economic recovery
The City of London Corporation has also been supporting Square Mile businesses in other ways, such as the recently launched Covid Business Recovery Fund of up to £50 million aimed at SMEs.
With these measures in place, we are confident that the City of London will be able to soon bounce back to normality. Hope is now on the horizon and businesses across the Square Mile are geared up and ready to welcome back the workers and visitors which provide its signature buzz.
We look forward to welcoming back even more people as they support local City businesses and cultural institutions as they emerge from a long and arduous lockdown. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.