Business leaders call on Government to ‘work with London’ ahead of PM’s speech today

By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter

As Boris Johnson prepares to set out his roadmap for the national easing of lockdown restrictions, London’s business leaders have identified how they want to see the capital emerge.

Last week, the London Covid Business Forum identified its short-term priorities for the full and safe reopening of the capital’s economy, the first of which was that “London should seek to influence” the Government’s own roadmap.

The Forum called on the Government to work with London to “provide clear communication” about decision-making and “avoid frequent switching between escalation and de-escalation”, in addition to providing targeted support for businesses.

Another key priority was the development of a campaign to reassure the public that it is safe to return to the high street within remaining social distancing guidelines, something that was supported by a £5million investment from the Mayor of London.

Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The roadmap from the Covid Business Forum and Mayor of London provides ways in which to sustainably remedy the economic hit that the capital has taken as a consequence of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions.

“A loss of tourism, commuter and business travel revenue has been truly devastating for London’s economy and businesses, and it will take a concerted effort from national and London government to recover, whenever vaccination roll-out allows for that.”

Key to reintroducing people back to the high street will be ensuring that public transport remains safe and encouraging the public to use it so that “capacity is maximised”, according to the London Covid Business Forum.

Last week, researchers from Imperial College London revealed that monthly surface and air testing of London’s transport network had found no trace of Covid-19.

Dr David Green, a senior research fellow at Imperial College, said the results are “reassuring for passengers” but has stressed that “we do need to keep social distancing in mind” to prevent human-to-human transmission.

Dr Green said: “During the early stage of the pandemic, everybody was very concerned about washing their hands and touching surfaces.

“As we’ve moved on, we are much more convinced that the routes of transmission tend to be through the air — through breathing, through being in confined environments, not maintaining social distancing or not wearing masks.”

He added: “We do need to keep social distancing in mind, and we do need to keep wearing masks because these are the reasons that the virus transmits between humans.

“It’s through aerosol transmission, it’s through touching surfaces, it’s through being very close to other people.”

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