Sadiq Khan should “get off his backside and shout from the rooftops that London is open” when national lockdown ends, Conservative politicians have said.
London Assembly members fear the West End – already reeling from the first wave of coronavirus – will be “failing spectacularly” by the end of a second wave.
But Mr Khan’s deputy warned against “creating super spreader events” in an attempt “to save sandwich shops and theatres” in the city, saying public health must be prioritised.
England began a four week lockdown today, with all restaurants, bars and non-essential shops shutting their doors to customers.
The restrictions are due to ease on Wednesday December 2, but could be extended if coronavirus infections remain high.
At the London Assembly, Conservative members today (Thursday November 5) called for action from the Mayor.
Tony Devenish, who represents west London boroughs including the West End, said Mr Khan must do more to reassure people that the Tube and the city are safe after lockdown.
“I don’t see any sense of urgency from what the Mayor has been doing over the last eight months,” he said.
“We’ve got to start getting the West End to create the jobs that we all need.”
One in ten London jobs is based in the central shopping district, according to the New West End Company business association.
Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey, who is also an Assembly member, said businesses faced a “void” from City Hall and need “much more steerage” from Mr Khan.
“When we can (open up again), we need very clear and decisive instruction on how that can happen, and I think that falls to the Mayor,” he said.
Mr Bailey warned that city centre businesses are already “under pressure” and at risk of “failing spectacularly”.
London’s West End normally turns over £10 billion a year, but that could drop to as little as £1.5 billion because of the drop in tourism and hit to shopper confidence, the New West End Company has said.
But Mr Khan’s Deputy Mayor Jules Pipe, who leads on planning and regeneration, said the Mayor cannot promote events until it is clear which local restriction tier London will be in after lockdown.
Before the national rules introduced today, London was in Tier 2 – meaning households were banned from mixing indoors, but shops and restaurants stayed open.
If the city returns to Tier 1 after lockdown, households will be able to mix at home and at restaurants and pubs, as long as they keep socially distanced and maintain the rule of six.
But if cases continue to rise, a Tier 3 lockdown would see pubs and bars shut, and more restrictions on household mixing.
“I’ve been shocked at calls from some quarters for what I would describe as wanting the Mayor to create a super spreader event in central London,” Mr Pipe said.
“I am sure the Mayor would love to stand up and bang the drum for London and get people to come here – and he stands ready to do that as immediately as it’s safe to do so.
“But I see little point discussing what the Mayor can do to get tourists to come here now when we are quite some long way away from being able to deliver that as a country as well as a capital.”