Londoners Venture Back to Work Despite Rise in Virus Infections

Londoners are steadily increasing their use of public transport after schools reopened, freeing parents to go back to the workplace.

Passenger numbers on the subway rose 16% and bus users surged 28% by 10 a.m. on Thursday compared with the same time a week earlier, data compiled by transit manager Transport for London show.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urging workers to head back to their offices to help support the cafes and shops that surround them. That’s despite coronavirus infection rates rising to a three-month high, prompting the government to ban social gatherings of more than six people in England in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.

“In the last two weeks we’ve noticed a major, substantial increase to what we’ve been taking recently,” said James Leahy of Mexican food stall Burrito Joe in the City of London. Spending is still about half of what it was before lockdown and he’s concerned that, with other businesses starting to open, there may not be enough customers to go around.

The number of subway commuters is still just a third of last year’s number, while on buses it’s 56%, the TfL data show.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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