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Opinion
Therese Raphael

How Boris Johnson Can Save London

Subsidized public transport and a working track-and-trace system would be far more effective than trying to force people back to the office. 

Working lunch.

Working lunch.

Photographer: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP

Getting English kids back into school this week isn’t just about them. It’s crucial that we repair the damage to educational outcomes, life chances and physical and emotional wellbeing inflicted by months out of the classroom. But this is also about removing a major obstacle to the return of working parents to their city-center offices.

Tackling the empty workplace is now Boris Johnson’s priority. That’s understandable. The hollowing out of cities could have a devastating impact on employment, widen inequalities and further weaken government revenues. London — always the prime consideration in these conversations — makes up about 22% of the U.K.’s gross domestic product. Even so, the prime minister’s back-to-the-office campaign may not succeed; it’s not obvious that it’s a politician’s job to tell businesses what to do.