London in Lockdown: Mobility in the Pandemic City


This chapter looks at the spatial distribution and mobility patterns of essential and non-essential workers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in London, and compares them to the rest of the UK. In the 3-month lockdown that started on 23 March 2020, 20 percent of the workforce was deemed to be pursuing essential jobs. The other 80 percent were either furloughed which meant being supported by the government to not work, or working from home. Based on travel journey data between zones (983 zones in London; 8,436 zones in England, Wales and Scotland), trips were decomposed into essential and non-essential trips. Despite some big regional differences within the UK, we find that essential workers have much the same spatial patterning as non-essential for all occupational groups containing essential and nonessential workers. Also, the amount of travel time saved by working from home during the Pandemic is roughly the same proportion – 80 percent – as the separation between essential and non-essential workers. Further, the loss of travel, reduction in workers, reductions in retail spending as well as increases in use of parks are examined in different London boroughs using Google Mobility Reports which give us a clear picture of what has happened over the last 6 months since the first Lockdown. These reports also now imply that a second wave of infection is beginning.