Monday 7 September 2020 4:20 am

The Square Mile is welcoming Londoners back to the City

William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.

Every week, we are seeing more people trickling back to the City of London for work, school, or simply to visit this world-class destination.

Despite the sights across the Square Mile remaining strikingly familiar, those who have already returned will have noticed a number of changes. A new dawn has begun in the City.

A lot of effort has been poured into ensuring that workers, residents and visitors are able to engage with the incredibly special spaces that make the City unique in a safe and sustainable way.

Social distancing remains key, so our transport recovery plan is creating additional space for pedestrians and cyclists on the City’s narrow historic streets — in parallel with work done by employers to make offices Covid-19 secure. It is fantastic to see a growing number of people enjoying this new space to move safely about the Square Mile. The initial phases of this work are almost complete and over the coming weeks semi-permanent measures, including additional seating, will be installed.

Many of these changes have the potential to accelerate the objectives of our City Plan 2036 and Transport Strategy, which both focused on sustainable travel and the greening of our urban landscape well before Covid-19. Projects such as the widening of footpaths outside Mansion House at Bank Junction show the real difference we can make to the look, feel and use of our public spaces. The work we have undertaken will enhance the City’s long-term attractiveness by also helping to combat air pollution and improve road safety.

Numerous vibrant and historic attractions across the Square Mile have also reopened. Social distancing requirements mean that they are operating with reduced capacity, but this also means visitors are having an altogether unique experience. St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Museum of London, the Guildhall Art Gallery, and the galleries and conservatory of the Barbican have all been welcoming people back.

Of course, it’s not only about arts, culture and heritage here. We recognise that our fantastic retail and hospitality offerings have been facing exceptionally difficult trading conditions. As more and more people return to the City, I hope they will enjoy the many historic pubs, cafes and top rate restaurants across the Square Mile — building on the successful Eat Out to Help Out scheme. In line with our commitment to supporting these businesses and enabling outdoor trading, we are also working to reallocate some street space to al fresco dining where it is safe to do so.

After months of working from home, many of us are keen to return to our City workplaces. The office is a place of collaboration and innovation, and businesses have told us it remains important to have a space to share ideas and to meet with customers and clients.

We warmly welcome those who have returned to the City, and remain dedicated to our vision of a safe and vibrant 24/7 destination. 

I very much look forward to the safe return of more City workers, so we can keep this world-class business centre the buzzing and exciting place it always has been.

Main image credit: Getty

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