Covid Plan B: £750m-a-month WFH blow to central London


oving to the Government’s “Plan B” set of measures to counter the spread of Covid, including a recommendation to work from home, would cost the fragile central London economy £750 million a month, a study revealed.

Analysis for the Standard by a leading City economist highlights the scale of the damage that would be caused on the West End, City and Docklands.

The main elements are compulsory vaccination passports for nightclubs and major events, a legal requirement to wear facemasks in crowded indoor places and advice to work from home.

Simon French, chief economist at Panmure Gordon, said: “This analysis shows the challenge the London economy would face from a move to Plan B.


“Whilst businesses have shown admirable adaptability over the last 18 months, there are considerable costs that are impossible to avoid.”

He said of the three measures, the vast bulk of the direct harm would be caused by the work from home order.

Since the last of the restrictions were lifted in July, London has seen a slow but steady recovery in footfall, spending and consumer confidence.

Ruth Duston, managing director of Primera Corporation, which runs nine central London Business Improvements Districts, said: “The prospect of a return to enforced working from home is hugely concerning.

“Central London is a complex ecosystem of businesses which all rely on a steady footfall of workers.

“For businesses just finding their feet again, this would come as a hugely demoralising blow which many might not come back from.”

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “The night time economy is extremely fragile at the moment, further lockdown or additional restrictions will have a devastating impact.”

Baroness Morrissey, chairwoman elect at broker AJ Bell, said: “The risks from Covid need to be managed alongside other risks — to the economy, jobs, mental and physical health.”

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