The City’s Policy Chair, Catherine McGuinness, says the “signs of spring” are in the air as the Square Mile fights to recover from the pandemic.
She told the Court of Common Council that the City continues to hold its position as a global hub for business, and that 2022 will be a “brighter year.”
She also confirmed the launch of a ‘Square Smile’ campaign to support retail, leisure, hospitality,and cultural attractions once current restrictions are eased.
“Even in a tough economic winter, the signs of spring are around the corner,” she said.
“The re-opening of the Waterloo and City line is a welcome boost.
“This signal of confidence in the Square Mile is excellent news for our workers, visitors, and businesses alike.
“2022 should also see the launch of Crossrail, which will bring an additional one million visitors a year to the City.”
Work from home policies have been reintroduced to dampen to spread of the Omicron variant.
But McGuinness says the City and its stakeholders should be buoyed by the trends witnessed prior to measures being reimposed by Government.
She said: “Before the latest restrictions were announced, footfall had bounced back to 70 percent of pre-COVID levels. Meanwhile, in 2021, a total of over four million square feet of new office floorspace was given the green light. This represents an increase of almost 70 percent on the previous year.
“Collectively, these votes of confidence are early signs that investors expect 2022 to be a brighter year in our battle against COVID.”
McGuinness also stressed the need to bring people back to their workplace as quickly as possible, adding.
“Before Christmas, the Omicron variant cast a shadow over the Square Mile’s recovery. Today, the early new year signs are promising.
“We may be passing the peak in London, and the damage caused by Omicron in health terms may not be as great as initially feared.
“For our economic revival, though, the Omicron variant continues to pose significant challenges.
“The Government’s “work from home” advice is a brake on the City’s revival and is damaging our hospitality and retail sector. That’s why we called on government before Christmas for financial support for businesses.
“But financial support is not enough and it is vital that we get workers back to the office as soon as possible.”