City centres are 'as busy as they were before Covid struck'

uk city centres busy covid pandemic

OUT AND ABOUT: Footfall is on the rise (Image: Matthew Horwood/Getty)

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Data from think tank the Centre for Cities found average footfall – the number of people out and about – in the 63 places it tracks was 93 percent of its pre-pandemic level during the last week of February.

The figure was the highest it has been in the past two years and showed a four percentage point increase on the end of January.

The number of people returning to city centres has gradually been growing following the Government’s easing of Covid curbs, including its advice to work from home.

City centre businesses – from sandwich shops to pubs and bars – are desperate for the return of commuters.

Today’s report shows 44 cities had, by the end of February, recovered their pre-pandemic levels of footfall.

However, the recovery varies across the country. Places such as Plymouth, Swansea and York were busier than before the pandemic, although the Centre for Cities added that this could be due to half-term visitors.

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In contrast, London still has some way to go, with footfall at the end of February just 63 percent of pre-Covid levels.

The think tank said: “The most significant change seen in this month’s data is on weekday, daytime footfall – a significant part of which can be attributed to workers returning to their desks.

“Already on the rise in January after the Government lifted remote working guidance, more people returned in the past few weeks and weekday footfall levels kept rising at a fast pace in February.”

However, the return to offices comes as figures show infections are increasing across the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics, about one in 25 people are infected with the coronavirus.

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