London is changing thanks to coronavirus – it may never be the same again

The capital may have to give up some dominance and wealth – but there could be positives as a result, including fewer people, lower rents and a more pleasant experience all-round, writes Mary Dejevsky

Thursday 10 September 2020 19:58
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Sliding doors: can a better future for the capital emerge?
Sliding doors: can a better future for the capital emerge?
I

t is the small things that you notice. People are walking faster. We are all having to relearn the art of navigating shared pavements. The traffic is suddenly a lot heavier; you have to remember to look both ways. I even saw someone yesterday walking down the street in a suit and tie.  

In central London, where I have spent most of the last six months, all this is very recent. The start of a return to something like “normality” only began here with the return of schools and parliament. We will see how the latest government edicts – the so called "law of six", and new efforts at enforcing mask-wearing - reverse any of this. Government offices, though, like those in the City and the Docklands financial district, still look very empty.

The slow pace of London’s revival – slower even than most city centres – the reluctance of people to use public transport (especially the Tube), the new quality of life many erstwhile commuters have discovered while working, of necessity, from home, all militate against vast swathes of London ever returning to the frenetic, full-to-bursting metropolis that it was before coronavirus struck.

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