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COVID and the City – What next for the UK’s Core Cities?

Over the course of the pandemic, the bustling, busy city spaces of the world have – for long periods – lain empty as citizens retreated indoors to shelter from the virus. These empty spaces and closed doors have become a powerful, visible symbol of the impacts of the pandemic, which have been felt keenly by the UK’s eleven “Core Cities” of Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Where SimCity Gets Zoning Right, and Where Not

Many readers will be familiar with the game SimCity. You play an omnipotent mayor, laying roads, planning infrastructure, and zoning land to grow your city and attract “Sims”, the inhabitants of your marvel creation. With good planning, your city prospers, Sims are happy, and you earn “Simoleons” (SimCity’s currency) to develop your city further. That is, of course, barring the occasional zombie apocalypse.

Rural well-being

An imagined country

In the early stages of the pandemic, the focus was squarely on cities. Urban density and shared spaces contributed to surging case numbers and deaths: before June, the rise in excess deaths was more than three times higher in large metropolitan areas compared to remote regions. But rural areas still reeled from the economic impacts. Businesses closed to comply with containment measures, trade slowed, and tourism activity all but ceased.