City bankers brace for lockdowns to return by year-end

The country is back open, but City workers are already bracing for some parts of it to slam back shut again.

Just over 60% of UK-based market professionals in a poll from Deutsche Bank’s research unit see some form of “daily life [or] economic restrictions to still be in place” and 16% expected life to be “heavily restricted after a fresh wave of Covid-19 cases” by December. 

Only 1% of the 189 respondents in the poll, provided exclusively to Financial News, see life going “completely back to normal” by the end of 2021. The survey was conducted between 21 and 23 July. 

The emergence of new variants of Covid-19 that are able to bypass vaccines  was cited as among “the biggest risks to the current relative market stability” by 70% of UK-based respondents, the figures show.

Others, still, are yet more pessimistic. Adrian Crawford, a partner in the employment practice of law firm Kingsley Napley in London, told Financial News that while several of his City clients were preparing for the majority of their employees to return to their offices in September, “the question I have in my mind is whether or not that is realistic, and whether in fact we are heading towards another lockdown in September”.

Cases in the UK skyrocketed in England in early July, fuelled by the highly transmissible Delta variant, which at its peak made up 95% of cases across the country. The variant, first detected in India, is more likely to cause hospitalisation unless a person has had two doses of a vaccine.

And while cases of Covid-19 in the UK had dropped around 37% in the week to 29 July, officials have been keen to sound a note of caution. Hospitalisations and deaths within 28 days of a positive test have ticked up by 21% and 28%, respectively, in the seven days up to 25 July and 29 July. 

The government removed all coronavirus restrictions in England on 19 July, including rules preventing meet-ups in bars and nightclubs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned on 27 July that the country was “not out of the woods yet”, while a spokesperson for Downing Street told reporters that same day that cases of Covid-19 could go up again.

To contact the authors of this story with feedback or news, email Lucy McNulty and Bérengère Sim

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