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Nearly 80% of City of London workers were back at their desks last week despite Omicron

City of London workers have flocked back to the ‘Square Mile’ despite rising cases of the Covid super-variant Omicron.

More staff were at their desks last week than at any point during the pandemic as the festive party season kicked off.

It comes as traffic data for the capital showed rush hour traffic last week had rocketed above average pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile mobility figures showed more people were walking or driving around the city than at any point this year.

More staff were at their desks last week than at any point during the pandemic as the festive party season kicked off (file photo)

The City of London, which employs 540,000 people. appeared to be back in the swing of things as almost 80 per cent of workers were at their desks last week.

More staff flocked back to the district on Tuesday and Thursday than at any point since Covid struck in March 2020, according to Google data seen by Bloomsburg.

This is despite the surging Omicron variant of coroanvirus, with 246 official cases in the UK so far.

Christmas parties may have been the cause as bars and restaurants were packed with punters last week.

But many are now scrapping plans amid fears of the new strain, which the government is monitoring cautiously.

Britain on Monday reported 51,459 further cases of Covid-19 and 41 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to official data.

That compares with 43,992 cases and 54 deaths reported a day earlier.

Earlier, Britain’s Health Security Agency said it found 90 new cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, taking the total number identified so far to 336.

TomTom traffic data showed London as a whole was busy throughout last week as the country gears up for the festive season.

Rush hour on Tuesday saw congestion levels at 79 per cent, compared to 67 per cent before the pandemic.

On Wednesday this shot up to 81 per cent, in comparison with 67 per cent pre-Covid-19.

Thursday’s figure remained high on 73 per cent – as opposed to 65 per cent two years ago – but Friday dipped to 51 per cent as many worked from home.

Meanwhile Apple mobility data for the capital also showed Londoners were bouncing back from the pandemic and heading out.

November and December have seen figures shoot up compared to earlier in the year and last year.

Transit is up 47 per cent, walking surged by 31 per cent while drivers also increased by 15 per cent.

The graph only ticked above zero per cent in July when the country opened up again and has stayed high since.

LONDON: Pictured are the congestion rates in the capital over the last seven days from TomTom data

LONDON: Pictured are the congestion rates in the capital over the last seven days from TomTom data

LONDON: Pictured is the congestion rate across London during the last 48 hours

LONDON: Pictured is the congestion rate across London during the last 48 hours

LONDON: The daily and weekly congestion level for the past year in the city are pictured

LONDON: The daily and weekly congestion level for the past year in the city are pictured

LONDON: Pictured are the mobility trends for walkers, drivers and those in transit for 2021

LONDON: Pictured are the mobility trends for walkers, drivers and those in transit for 2021

But while Britain has opened up, there are warning signs of the spread of the virus amid high cases and reports of people not following restrictions.

On Thursday Transport for London revealed it fined more than 150 passengers for not wearing a mask on the first day new Covid laws came into effect.

Staff dished out 152 fixed penalty notices to customers across its services in the capital on Tuesday.

They also had to remind more than 5,000 people to don face coverings on its Tubes, buses, rail, DLR and trams.

Meanwhile over 100 passengers had to be booted off TfL services and a further 127 were stopped from getting on.

TfL released Tuesday’s figures for those fined on its services across the capital on Thursday morning.

It showed staff were forced to hand out 152 fixed penalty notices to people who did not comply by the new rules.

It means they have been charged £200 – reduced to £100 if paid in 14 days – which doubles each time someone is caught to a maximum of £6,400.

Meanwhile 5,101 people had to be told to put a mask on in what TfL termed ‘customer interventions’.

As many as 125 customers had to be booted off services for refusing to put one on and 127 were prevented from getting on at all.

It had been TfL policy for riders to wear a face covering before Tuesday, but the government’s new laws meant people can now be prosecuted for it.

Staff dished out 152 fixed penalty notices to customers across its services in the capital on Tuesday. Pictured: The Tube last week

Staff dished out 152 fixed penalty notices to customers across its services in the capital on Tuesday. Pictured: The Tube last week

They also had to remind more than 5,000 people to don face coverings on its Tubes, buses, rail, DLR and trams. Pictured: The Tube last week

They also had to remind more than 5,000 people to don face coverings on its Tubes, buses, rail, DLR and trams. Pictured: The Tube last week

It comes as Downing Street confirmed it is intending to hold its own Christmas party this month after Boris Johnson refused to rule out tougher Covid curbs.

The PM dodged when he was asked if he was certain the alarming spread of the Omicron variant would not require harsher restrictions, as he just insisted this Christmas will be ‘better’ than last year.

 ‘This Christmas will be considerably better than last Christmas,’ he said during a visit to Merseyside. 

The tighter rules on masks and self-isolation are due to be reviewed by December 18 – meaning that people might not know until a week before Christmas Day what limits they face. 

Despite the uncertainty, Number 10 said at lunchtime that it is planning a Christmas party for staff, with the PM’s Official Spokesman telling reporters: ‘We haven’t confirmed any dates at the moment. I think there is an intention to have a Christmas party this year.’

Whitehall sources have suggested there is little prospect of the current restrictions being loosened before the New Year, as scientists try to establish the scale of the threat posed by the variant.   

Downing Street has confirmed it is intending to hold its own Christmas party later this month after Boris Johnson this morning refused to rule out tougher Covid curbs over the festive period

Downing Street has confirmed it is intending to hold its own Christmas party later this month after Boris Johnson this morning refused to rule out tougher Covid curbs over the festive period

There are warnings today that the incoming Omicron wave could be as bad or worse for the NHS than the second coronavirus peak last winter even if the super-mutant variant is weaker than its predecessors.

Real-world data suggests the highly-evolved variant is three-and-a-half times more likely to infect people than Delta because of its combination of vaccine resistance, increased infectiousness and antibody escape.

There have been only 246 official Omicron cases confirmed in the UK so far, but there are likely more than a thousand already, according to Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia.

Professor Hunter said he expected it to become the dominant variant ‘probably within the next weeks or a month’, based on how rapidly it is outpacing Delta in the South African epicentre.


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