This note was developed by the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities (CFE) in collaboration with the OECD Working Party for Urban Policy and the OECD Champion Mayors Initiative for Inclusive Growth. It is an update of the earlier versions released on 27 March and 13 May, which expands the examples of measures taken by cities to respond to COVID-19 and recover from the economic and social crisis. The note provides analysis on issues related to the economic, social and environmental impacts, lessons learned in terms of digitalisation, mobility, density, urban design and collaborative governance, and action-oriented guidance to build back better cities, building on previous work on urban resilience. Short and medium term responses provided by cities are clustered around six categories: i) social distancing; ii) workplace and commuting; iii) vulnerable groups; iv) local service delivery; v) support to business; and vi) communication, awareness raising and digital tools. The note also includes updated information on how cities are progressively exiting the lockdown. Annex A provides more detailed information on long-term city recovery strategies. Annex B provides more detailed information on the inventoried city initiatives during lockdown and exiting. Annex C maps efforts from selected organisations and city networks to collect city responses and foster knowledge and experience sharing.
Cities are on the frontline of responses to the COVID-19 crisis. They play a key role to implement nation-wide measures, but also provide laboratories for bottom-up and innovative recovery strategies. COVID-19 accelerated the shift towards a new urban paradigm towards inclusive, green and smart cities.
This policy note draws 10 key lessons from the crisis to build back better cities.
COVID-19 had asymmetrical impacts across territories but many policy responses were place-blind and uniform, highlighting the need for place-based and people-centred approaches.
The health crisis turned into a major economic and social shock; and cities’ exposure and recovery depends on industrial composition, labour market breakdown and trade openness.
The rediscovery of proximity provides a window to shift faster from a target of increasing mobility to one of enhancing accessibility by revisiting public space, urban design & planning.
The crisis strikingly exposed inequality across people and places, especially in large cities, where vulnerable groups such as migrants, the poor, women and the elderly were hit hard.
The health problem is not related to urban density but rather to structural inequalities and the quality of urbanisation; and the urban premium will likely not turn into an urban penalty as agglomeration benefits continue to prevail;
Digitalisation, a major game changer during the crisis, will remain a key component of a “new normal”, although teleworking ability varies both across and within countries.
The “Zoom effect” and “Greta effect” accelerated environmental awareness, making the transition towards clean mobility and circular economy more politically and socially acceptable.
COVID-19 bears implications for governance, with citizens’ trust in governments increasing in some countries, especially for local politicians, and decreasing in others.
The COVID-19 shock calls for a stronger focus on resilience; preparedness to future shocks requires managing WHO does WHAT at WHICH scale and HOW for more resilient cities.
Global agendas such as the SDGs, the New Urban Agenda, and the Sendai Framework are both timely and relevant to reshape planning, policy, strategy and budget from the ground up.
After devising short term and crisis management responses related to social distancing, workplace and commuting, vulnerable groups, local service delivery, support to business and citizen engagement, cities started shaping long-term recovery strategies for more inclusive, green and smart cities.
To close the gap and address structural inequality in the recovery period, cities have taken many inclusive measures, especially for local business support and employment, affordable housing construction and renovation, and support to vulnerable households.
Many cities are already planning for life after COVID-19 with a range of investments to pair economic recovery with environmental sustainability with an emphasis on clean forms of urban mobility and energy efficiency.
The pivotal role of digitalisation in emergency responses to the pandemic has pushed many cities to systematise the use of smart city tools more permanently, while staying alert and monitoring the risk of contagion. The virtual space is further becoming integral as information, participation, cultural resources and municipal services are digitalised.
However, cities cannot fix the magnitude of the challenge on their own. Recovery from the crisis should be a shared responsibility across all levels of government; which should leverage financial resources and good governance to deliver opportunities for all, to transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy; and to improve resident’s well-being and foster inclusive growth now and in the future.
With over 100 countries having gone into lockdown, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered the third and greatest economic, financial and social shock of the 21st century, after 9/11 and the global financial crisis of 2008. This systemic shock triggered a halt in global production, hitting supply chains across the world, a steep drop in consumption together with a collapse in confidence and, finally, a sharp decline in services that reflects the consequences of lockdowns and social distancing, especially in urban settings. The OECD estimates that GDP in OECD countries will contract by 9.5% in 2020 if there is a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
Over the past months, many stringent measures have been applied to contain the virus and minimise pressure on hospitals and healthcare infrastructure. Initially, the most urgent priority was to minimise the loss of life and health. However, the pandemic has also set in motion a major economic and social crisis. In light of the lockdown restrictions ending in many OECD countries, the initial short-term responses need to be combined with long-term recovery plans, which will require co-ordinated efforts across all levels of government and stakeholders to meet the challenge. International co-operation to exit the crisis has become even more relevant than ever and, in this regard, cities have an important role to play.
Since early March, the OECD has been collecting local policy responses aimed at containing the spread of the virus, protecting residents and local economies, and recovering from the economic and social crisis. This note provides an update of such measures including those related to the easing of lockdown restrictions and long-term recovery. It includes an overview of economic, social and environmental impact of COVID-19 pandemic on cities, as well as lessons learned in terms of the use of digital tools, urban mobility, urban density, urban design and collaborative governance. It also suggests a set of action-oriented recommendations to help rebuild better cities that can be resilient and future-proof in a post-COVID-19 world.
Globally, almost half of the global population live in cities, and this share is expected to rise to 55% by 2050. Cities may be better equipped than the rest of their country to respond to the COVID-19 crisis due to their well-developed health care facilities. However, cities are densely populated places where people live and gather, thus at risk of spreading the virus due to the close proximity among residents and challenges to implement social distancing. Large and secondary cities, in particular, often act as hubs for transnational business and movement, with the potential to amplify the pandemic through increased human contact. For example, in Japan, it is reported that a winter festival (Sapporo) and a live-music clubhouse (Osaka) became clusters from which COVID-19 spread to a large crowd. Several religious gatherings in cities have also proved ripe for spreading the virus from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Daegu (Korea).
In addition, cities marked with inequalities and a high concentration of urban poor are potentially more vulnerable than those that are better resourced, less crowded and more equal. According to scholars, pandemics often emerge from the edge of cities since viral outbreaks are frequently incubated and transmitted via peri-urban communities and transportation corridors at the outskirts of cities before they spread into the downtown core.
Pollution levels, which are higher in cities, are also known to cause lung and heart damage and are responsible for at least 7 million early deaths a year. Residents with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis, can be more vulnerable to COVID-19. This may have a more serious impact on city dwellers and those exposed to toxic fumes, than on others.
The COVID-19 crisis may provide an opportunity for city dwellers and planners to rethink drastically, from the ground up, their consumption, production and travelling paradigm. To a certain extent “life after COVID-19” will be “life with COVID-19”, hence the need to rebuild cities long term, based on a new approach to urban spaces that takes better account of different needs, and shifts from a logic of mobility to one of accessibility to basic amenities and services. Key concepts such as the “circular economy”, the “localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals”, “tactical urbanism” and “the 15-min city” can all help achieve better quality of life while preserving productivity, social inclusion and the environment.
Part I of this note has two objectives. First, it provides analysis on the economic, social and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities. While it is still early to measure the overall impact of COVID-19, many cities have started to make projections and impact assessments to support local action and decision-making, notably in terms of recovery strategies. Second, it summarises lessons learned for urban policy design and implementation and to build back better cities, notably in terms of: i) the use of digital tools; ii) urban mobility and the future of urban public transport; iii) the role of urban density; iv) urban planning and design; and v) collaborative governance. Such lessons provide useful insights in rethinking cities and urban policy in the post COVID-19 world.
The OECD expects the global economy to contract unprecedentedly in 2020. Across OECD countries, GDP is projected to drop by 9.5% by the end of 2020 in case of a second wave. This would represent the largest economic dip since the Great Depression of the 1930s. GDP is expected to shrink in nearly every country in 2020, although with significant variation reflecting differing circumstances. As economic growth projections have been revised downwards, the unemployment count has continued to rise. Worldwide, some 300 million full-time jobs could be lost and nearly 450 million companies are facing the risk of serious disruption.
Within this context, cities have started to make projections of the consequences of the crisis on their local economies and finance. While situations vary greatly across and within OECD countries, depending on the primary industries of the cities (i.e. cities relying heavily on tourism are particularly affected) and their sources of revenue, all are still registering sharp downward trends in GDP and employment levels:
The Montreal Metropolitan Community (Canada) published an analysis of the impact of the pandemic on the metropolitan economy showing that COVID-19 is expected to cause a marked but temporary contraction in the economy of Greater Montreal in the second quarter of 2020. The social distancing required to avoid infection and reduce mortality will slow economic activity by notably immobilising the sectors where personal contact is most pronounced: retail businesses, personal services, passenger transport (especially air and public transport). Supply chain disruptions and recessions among major trading partners will weaken exports, investment and tourism in the medium term.
Paris (France) saw its economic activity decrease by 37% since mid-March, in contrast to the 34% at the national scale. It is estimated that the crisis will cost the city EUR 400 million.
Barcelona (Spain) estimates a drop of 14% in GDP, which is 4 times higher than that of the 2009 financial crisis.
UK Core Cities – Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Sheffield – estimated that the crisis had incurred costs amounting to GBP 1.6 billion among their cities alone by 22 May 2020.
An initial estimate of expected economic impact in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) is significant, due to the type of industry in Amsterdam (i.e. touristic sector). Though numbers have not been confirmed, it the economic fallout is estimated at of EUR 1.6 billion per month, if the crisis continues, and a 1.5-2.8% decrease in growth, instead of the 2.3% growth originally expected.
An impact study of confinement on the job market in Madrid (Spain) estimated that after two months of confinement, the city of Madrid would lose 60,500 direct jobs, a figure that could reach 108,000 if counting indirect employment. This represents 5.4% of total employment. The breakdown by sector of the data places hospitality as the most affected sector (31.8%, with 19,227 fewer jobs) followed by retail trade (11.3%, with 6,850 fewer jobs), personal services (5.6%, which means 3,425 fewer jobs) and culture (2.5%, with 1,497 fewer jobs).
After two months of confinement, Bogotá’s (Colombia) GDP was estimated to fall around 4% and unemployment reached 18%. With three months confinement, the fall would be -8%, never seen in the history of the city. Bogotá will continue to be strongly impacted, given that its GDP depends on activities that will take longer to recover such as hotels, restaurants, tourism and concerts. Before the pandemic, the city's economic growth for 2020 was expected to be 3.5%.
In Washington DC (US), COVID-19 and its associated impacts have resulted in the closure of businesses, driving 70,000 workers to file for unemployment and creating a USD 700 million revenue gap in Washington DC’s current 2020 budget and even more in 2021 and the ensuing years of the city’s multi-year budget.
In the month of March, San Francisco (US) received 77 notices of businesses laying off workers, totalling 5,676 employees. An economic vulnerability also lies on its tech sector, with the fear that remote working arrangements of tech companies might lead to an “exodus”, reducing economic consumption and fiscal resources for the city.
In addition to the sharp decline in economic activities and employment, cities are also experiencing a severe drop in fiscal revenues:
San Francisco (US) estimates that the deficit for the upcoming two-year budget established earlier this year will increase to between USD 1.1 and USD 1.7 billion, driven by revenue shortfalls.
Florence (Italy) also suffered catastrophic economic losses, as tourism represents 15% of its EUR 35 billion GDP. They estimate a budget loss of EUR 200 million out of a usual amount of EUR 800 million.
The City of Reykjavík (Iceland) established a team responsible for estimating the economic impact on the city’s finance related to the crisis, and preparing actions for the financial protection of both the city’s basic services, local businesses and citizens.
A survey of municipalities across the country from the National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors conducted in the first seven days of April found that the vast majority expect a revenue shortfall. Reduced spending at stores and restaurants equate to less sales tax revenue, which is one of the most significant ways cities fund services in cities. New York City (US) expects to lose USD 7.4 billion in tax revenue across two fiscal years while Los Angeles (US) may lose anywhere from USD 425 million to USD 829 million in the same period. In Phoenix (US), more than 30% of the city's revenue comes from sales taxes related to retail sales, tourism and entertainment. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Phoenix was projecting a USD 28 million surplus for the upcoming fiscal year. Now, it is anticipating a USD 26 million deficit as an optimistic estimate of COVID-19's impact on Phoenix's budget. The deficit was calculated assuming the full impact of the pandemic only lasts until July. If it lasts until October, Phoenix would face a USD 56 million deficit. If it continues through December, the impact would grow to USD 79 million. If it lasts until June 2021, the deficit will top USD 100 million.
A survey conducted in May 2020 by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) on the impact of the crisis on local and regional finance confirms the significant impact on local finance, as in addition to their significant losses in income, local governments are on the frontline of the crisis response and faced with large increases in expenditure. The survey identifies that the increase in expenditure was mostly due to the purchase of protective equipment for civil servants and exposed workers, the cost of implementing lockdown and protection measures, and support to the most vulnerable. As for loss of income, the main sources were a fall in tax revenues from personal income taxes and taxes on businesses as a result of the drastic slowdown of economic activity.
The OECD note on the Territorial Impact of the COVID Crisis across Levels of Government further points out that budget constraints among subnational governments – while not uniform – are expected to be long lasting. While the crisis put short term pressure on health and social expenditure, its strongest impact is expected in the medium term. The note warns of the potentially dangerous effects of spending cuts, and calls for avoiding a “scissor effect” of reduced local revenues and increased expenditures, as well as for ensuring public investment.
The impact of COVID has compounded with existing socio-economic vulnerabilities and disproportionately affected vulnerable populations and minorities. Low-paid workers, who are likely to have fewer savings and less likely to be able to telework, were severely hit by measures such as social distancing and closures in retail, transport, restaurants and other services. Homeless people, estimated to be 1.9 million across OECD countries, have no or limited means of isolating and protecting themselves from infection. For the elderly people, many of whom live alone and tend not to have a family member or friend to rely on, COVID-19 places severe restriction on their daily life independence generating loneliness and other psychological impacts, in addition to the higher risk of complication in case of infection. Women, who are overrepresented in service sectors (e.g. tourism, hotels, restaurants) that rely on physical interaction with customers, are more likely to be negatively affected by economic downturn from COVID-19, in addition to increasing risks of domestic violence.For Manchester (UK), socioeconomic inequalities are considered the priority emergency to recover from the crisis, as areas with a higher concentration of inadequate housing and precarious employment were much more affected by the coronavirus. This pattern was also made visible on a regional scale: as of 5 June, while the R rate had decreased below 1 in London and the South of the UK, it was still above 1 in the north west of the country. Manchester is working with local communities through consultation and research to assess the impact of the crisis on vulnerable populations and minorities.
Bristol (UK) also recognized that the COVID-19 crisis and the social distancing rules have exacerbated dynamics of social-economic inequalities. The city is supporting and taking into consideration studies and recommendations by civil society organisations addressing these disparities. One example is the work conducted by the Bristol-based Black South West Network (BSWN), which provided support to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) businesses, communities, and organisations, through advice and the monitoring of the impact of the crisis on BAME communities. Findings from a survey and report by BSWN to inform local action reveal that BAME communities tend to be overrepresented in sectors that have been hit the hardest by the covid-19 crisis, such as food industries and retailers, the arts, cultural and creative sectors, and taxi drivers and other low-income jobs among the self-employed, and that this was compounded by existing unequal ground in terms of health, housing and ICT access, as well as historical difficulties in accessing national funding for BAME grassroots organisations.
Globally, CO2 emissions are expected to fall by 8% in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency, with daily emissions of CO2 having fallen by an average of about 17% around the world in early April primarily due to the downturn in economic activities tied to COVID-19 related lockdowns. New York City (US), for instance, has seen a 38% reduction of CO2 emissions from the pre-pandemic level. In Europe, it is reported that daily carbon emissions have declined by 58% during lockdowns, with emissions from cars and motorcycles going down by 88%. However, in the long-term, an 8% year-on-year reduction may not be particularly significant, considering that economic recoveries from previous global economic crises were followed by a significant increase in GHG emissions which negated short-term emissions reductions. In addition, without coordinated and substantive action, the COVID-19 crisis will put low-carbon investments at risk, due in part to two major reasons: first, economic uncertainty tends to induce firms to reduce or postpone investment and innovation activity, which is particularly important for investments in the energy sector; second, low fossil-fuel energy prices provide weaker incentives for investment in low-carbon and energy efficiency technology at all stages.
Reduced transport has had a positive impact on air quality during the confinement in many cities of the world. In regions with lockdowns, there was a decrease of 50-75% in road transport activity and up to 95% in rush-hour traffic congestion in major cities. The City of Madrid (Spain) registered a 14% drop in rush-hour traffic after the first days of confinement. Air pollution in Chinese cities has dropped by 10 to 30% as a result of the confinement. Compared with 2019, levels of pollution in New York (US) have decreased by nearly 50% because of measures to contain the virus. Global levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant linked to cars, have hit a record low. Levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped significantly between 13 March until 13 April 2020 compared to the year before: Madrid (Spain), Milan (Italy) and Rome (Italy) saw decreases of around 45% while Paris (France) saw a dramatic drop of 54%, due to lockdown measures. Data from the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, which tracks air pollution in 50 European cities, reveals that 42 recorded below-average levels of nitrogen dioxide in March. In New Delhi a 95% reduction in rush-hour traffic congestion during the first weeks of lockdown coincided with a 66% drop in nitrogen dioxide. Cities in India and China also recorded reductions in sulphur oxide concentrations as industrial activities were curtailed.
However, as COVID-19 related lockdowns have ended in many countries, nitrogen dioxide concentration is also increasing – in China for instance, nitrogen dioxide concentrations are back to normal levels. Pollution levels, which are higher in cities, are cause to lung and heart damage and are responsible for at least 7 million early deaths a year. In the 3,000 cities that monitor air pollution globally, more than 80% of residents are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organization’s limits. Nitrogen dioxide – produced from power plants, vehicles and other industrial facilities – can have significant impacts on human health, such as increasing the likelihood of developing respiratory problems. Residents with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis, can be more vulnerable to COVID-19. This may have a more serious impact on city dwellers and those exposed to toxic fumes, than on others.
During the COVID-19 crisis, volumes of solid waste have risen, including unrecyclable waste such as disposable masks and gloves which have been washing up on beaches around the world due to improper disposal. Residential waste volumes are expected to increase by approximately 30% in North America. In Ireland, household waste quantities have increased by 20% to 30%. From March to April 2020, cities in the US saw an average increase in municipal solid waste and recycling collection of 20%, with cities such as Chicago (US) experiencing an estimated increase up to 50%. Infectious medical waste increased by 600% from 40 tons per day to 240 tons per day in Hubei Province (China) during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Waste Agency of Catalonia (Spain) has detected a 350% increase since mid-March. While 3,300 tonnes are usually generated in Catalonia (about 275 tonnes per month), since the start of the confinement in March, the generation has reached up to 1,200 tons, which is 925 tons more than usual.
Digitalisation has been a crucial lever in cities’ response to the pandemic, with tools monitoring contagion risk and ensuring the respect of confinement and social distancing, while also enabling the continuity of certain services and economic activity virtually. These tools and the changes in habits they entailed will remain a permanent component of cities’ recovery phase and increased preparedness for potential new waves. This prompted reflections on issues of privacy rights, and universality of internet access.
In terms of contact tracing and ensuring social distancing, cities have indeed adopted varied approaches in their use of data. The city of Newcastle (UK) is using smart city technologies to assess whether social distancing is respected. In Daegu (Korea), the epidemiological investigation during the outbreak was able to use the data hub of the smart city, to trace patient routes. Seoul (Korea) was also using geolocalisation data, bank card usage, and video surveillance. Other cities opted for less individualised monitoring options, such as using urban data to observe collective density and mobility patterns. For instance, Mexico City (Mexico) used a partnership with google maps and waze to monitor mobility trends, and Budapest (Hungary) is using smart city tools to identify high concentrations of people. Furthermore, the government plans to build out a “smart city” database and get quarantine violators to agree to use tracking bracelets. The database was initially designed to share information between cities on issues like traffic and pollution. Health authorities plan to leverage that network to reduce the time it takes to find and isolate COVID-19 cases. However, despite the positive impact to contain the epidemic, their use raises privacy concerns. For example, the European Commission is currently liaising with eight European telecommunications operators to obtain anonymised aggregate mobile geolocation data to coordinate measures tracking the spread of COVID-19. To address privacy concerns, the data will be deleted once the crisis is over.
Remote working and studying also became the norm for a large part of the population as cities enforced lockdowns or social distancing measures. An important lesson from the COVID-19 crisis, largely driven by a combination of the “Zoom effect”’ and “Greta effect”, is that teleworking is compatible with productivity and largely contributes to reducing negative environmental externalities.
Going forward, it is likely that there will be a “new normal” whereby many employees and companies will leverage the potential of teleworking and adjust their mobility patterns where appropriate and possible. In fact, polls have shown that citizens maintain new work and travel habits after transportation crises. For example, after the 2014 London transport strikes, 5% of passengers identified and retained new routes and modes of transport. More recently, a poll in Belgium indicated that up to 90% employees would like to continue teleworking after the current restrictions are lifted and everyone can go back to work. It was reported in June that up to 70% of residents in London (UK) did not feel comfortable with the idea of commuting to work in public transport. In the Ile-de-France region, it is reported that since 11 May, up to 31% of people use public transport less or not at all, substituting it for personal vehicles or active mobility (bicycles, e-scooters, walking).
However, people and places are unequal regarding teleworking. While some workers can reduce their exposure to the risk of contagion by teleworking, or benefit from preventive measures, many cannot because of the nature of their job, pre-existing inequalities, or the digital divide. Firstly, 61% of the world’s employed population (2 billion workers) are in informal employment and are more likely to be exposed to health and safety risks without appropriate protection, such as masks or hand disinfectants. Secondly, not everyone can work from home. Due to the nature of their jobs, in the United States, less than 30% of workers can work from home, and the ability to work from home differs enormously by race and ethnicity but also across places. The OECD note “Capacity for remote working can affect lockdown costs differently across places” shows strong regional disparities within OECD countries in terms of ability to telework with, on average, 50% of jobs in Luxembourg, 40% in France and 21% in Turkey being compatible with this working modality. Finally, many workers do not have stable broadband internet connection at home, or businesses do not have the means to provide their employees with the technology needed to telework.
The digital divide is one of the many inequalities exposed by COVID-19. Cities initially provided rapid or temporary measures to try and bridge that gap. Boston (US) is working to address the digital divide by providing high school students with a free "cell phone/hotspot" through the 1Million Project. Boston public schools are also providing a Chromebook to students in need of a device. In New York (US) the city has 25,000 Chromebooks in stock to give to students, but still has about 300,000 students who lack access to devices. In Yokohama (Japan), as there might be students who cannot access to the internet, some of the lessons were made to be available to watch on the sub channel of a local TV station (TV Kanagawa) from 20 April. Milan (Italy) has launched a call for donations of devices or internet connections to schools that have started remote learning. The City of Toronto (Canada) has partnered with ICT companies to provide free temporary internet access for low-income neighbourhoods, long-term care homes and shelters. As cities move from emergency responses to long term strategies, strengthening and extending the access to internet access and digital equipment becomes an important feature of recovery and resilience.
Mobility has been strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and provided cities with a momentum to rethink their approach towards urban space and suggest alternative options. For example, cities have been promoting cycling as one of the favoured options for the post-confinement period as part of the tactical urbanism movement (see part III). Moving into more long term and permanent strategies, cities are now investing in active mobility infrastructure, improved public transport safety and accessibility, and low emission transport options, such as electric vehicles and scooters.
While the impact of COVID-19 on public transport systems has been significant, in most OECD countries, transport systems have shown a remarkable capacity to enforce hygiene and distance measures during the lockdown exiting, thus limiting the creation of new transport-related clusters. Many urban public transport systems indeed adapted to this unprecedented crisis, successfully ensuring a minimum level of service and maintenance and rapidly deploying strict hygiene measures to protect the health of employees and transport users, but significant challenges remain. Urban transport agencies around the world have also faced unprecedented low levels of ridership and corresponding losses in fare revenue that are threatening their financial stability and which will continue for months to come in a context where physical distancing may be required in public transport:
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimates that US transit agencies are facing an overall funding shortfall of USD 48.8 billion between 2020 Q2 and the end of 2021. Nationally, transit ridership and fare revenues were down by 73% and 86%, respectively, in April 2020 relative to April 2019. Decreased capital spending could also lead to the loss of 37,000 construction jobs in 2020 and 34,000 jobs in 2021 due to project delays and cancellations. Quarterly transit revenue gaps are estimated to range between USD 4.2 and 8.1 billion through the end of 2021 even when the economy recovers due to several constraints such as reduced capacity, the costs of disinfection, lower ridership rates and unemployment level forecasts.
In April 2020, APTA surveyed its members – made up of more than 1,500 public and private sector members across the US and Canada – on the impact of COVID-19 on transport agencies and their future planning, and received 121 responses from public transport agencies representing 76% of ridership in the US. Results showed that in April,45% of agencies had service levels at 50% or less compared to pre-COVID levels; 87% of agencies went fare-free or stopped enforcing fare collection; and 52% of agencies reported delays or interruptions to capital projects.
Before COVID-19, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), carried about a million people on an average weekday across its 91 rail stations and more than 10,000 bus stops. Covid-19 triggered a dramatic collapse in ridership and service: rail ridership was down 92%, and bus passenger numbers fell 75% by the last week of March.
It is estimated that New York City’s Metropolitan Transport Authority may face a shortfall of up to USD 8.5 billion by the end of the year even taking into account a USD 3.8 billion federal bailout that it has received. In the end of March, subway ridership had fallen 10% of the usual five million weekday trips.
In San Francisco, the municipal transit system receives nearly twice as much revenue from parking fees and fines as from transit fares, both of which have plummeted during the lockdown (70% of the bus network was suspended during the strictest lockdown period).
Transport for London has similarly experienced a reduction of 90% in income from fares since lockdown measures were implemented in the UK.
During France’s lockdown, 30% of Paris’ RATP transport network was operational, and only 500,000 daily trips were being made on average (4% of the 12 million typical daily trips pre-COVID-19).
Between 9 May and 11 June in France, there were 300 new coronavirus clusters but none were associated with public transport. Similarly, after lifting its state of emergency in late May, Japan reported that during its outbreak no new clusters were traced to public transport (rather they were primarily traced to gyms, bars, and music venues). While these observations and data are only over a short period, the lack of explicit transport-related clusters may be due to the effective implementation of physical distancing and the respected use of masks; alongside other factors such as reduced ridership, stricter hygiene measures, or difficulty in directly locating the exact origin source of the cluster. However, it nonetheless provides encouraging signs about the possibility of safely using public transport during such a pandemic.
Compact cities have long been praised for their benefits, which include dense development patterns, better accessibility to local services and jobs, short intra urban distances and public transport systems with positive contributions to the efficiency of infrastructure investments, the reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions as well as knowledge diffusion and economic growth. Even in the COVID-19 context, dense urban environments can provide quicker access to health and social services, create support networks to combat social isolation and make use of “social infrastructure” (i.e. community institutions) to alleviate the consequences of the pandemic. However, with COVID-19, debates have started to emerge on the vulnerability of densely populated cities and their likelihood to the spread of the virus, due to the close proximity among residents and the difficulty in applying social distancing measures.
Recent findings however suggest that urban density is not automatically correlated with higher infection rates. A study published on 18 June in the Journal of the American Planning Association analysed the COVID-19 infection and death rates in 913 metropolitan counties in the US. Controlling for other factors such as race and education, the study found that county density was not significantly associated with infection rate, and even found that denser counties – as opposed to more sprawling ones – tended to have lower death rates. The study attributed this lower death rate to a higher level of development including better health system. Finally, they found that higher infection and mortality rate were actually correlated with a higher proportion of people age 60 and up, a lower proportion of college-educated people, and a higher proportion of African Americans.
These research findings also imply that it is not density alone that make cities vulnerable to COVID-19, but the structural economic and social conditions of cities making them more or less able to implement effective policy responses. For instance, cities marked with inequalities, inadequate housing conditions and a high concentration of urban poor are potentially more vulnerable than those that are better resourced, less crowded and more equal.
In some Asian countries, early action (the implementation of teleworking and lockdown orders), and early testing and extensive tracing of COVID-19 cases have succeeded in avoiding large outbreaks in several hyper-dense cities such as Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo. Within these hyper-dense cities, in many of the affluent areas, people were able to shelter in place, work remotely, and have all of their food and other needs delivered to them, thereby reducing their exposure to the virus. Evidence from Chinese richer highly dense cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Tianjin, and Zhuhai had fewer confirmed cases due to the capacity to mobilise enough fiscal resources and the provision higher-grade facilities and services to their residents.
On the other hand, in poorer higher-density suburbs, many are crammed together in multifamily, multi-generational households or in frontline service work in close physical proximity others or the public without adequate social distancing measures or protection, with greater exposure to the risk of infection. This density divide between rich and poor is also apparent in geographic breakdown of the virus across New York City: COVID-19 is hitting hardest not in dense Manhattan but in the less-dense outer boroughs, like the Bronx, Queens, and even far less dense Staten Island. In Singapore, it is reported that the latest exponential spread of COVID-19 has emerged from high-density dormitories that house the many thousands of long-term foreign workers. Similarly, in Melbourne, a public housing estate had to be suddenly locked down, as the conditions in the building made social distancing impossible. Moreover, people living in informal settlements are more vulnerable to be infected than those living in more adequate conditions. This was very clear in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where inefficient urban planning and inadequate housing are complicating the response to the crisis.
Cities are adapting urban design, reclaiming public spaces for citizens, and rethinking location of essential urban functions to ensure easier access to urban services and amenities while securing safety and health for their residents. In the context of COVID-19, concepts such as the 15 minute city developed by Carlos Moreno have gained traction as a means to increase the quality and sustainability of life in cities, by ensuring access to six essential functions in a short perimeter: to live, to work, to supply, to care, to lean, and to enjoy.
The Adaptation Plan 2020 of Milan (Italy) embraces this concept by ensuring that the accessibility of services is also accompanied by the promotion of the flexibility of usage of existing infrastructure and amenities, for instance using school buildings during the summer to welcome people and make their green areas accessible.
After the 2nd round of the municipal election in the City of Paris (France) on 28 June, a deputy in Mayor Hidalgo’s cabinet was appointed as exclusively dedicated to the 15-min city.
Montreal (Canada) is using the COVID-19 crisis to pursue a reflection on the future of the urban form and urban uses in its city centre, consulting universities and businesses – which have introduced remote working during the lockdown – to define a new hybrid system between remote working and the continued need and use of physical space. Public space will play a key role in striking this balance, and will be arranged to remain attractive to citizens, while enabling social distancing, through the extension of terraces on sidewalks, and pedestrianisation of streets. This further confirms the benefits of Montreal’s “human scale” as the city is already a juxtaposition of neighbourhoods, each with easily accessible public services and amenities.
The crisis also highlighted the importance of accessible green spaces for many cities and their residents.
For instance, in the United States, the nation’s parks experienced a high increase in numbers of visitors in March as the lockdown was installed. Usage of popular trails in Dallas went from 30 to 35%, while in Minneapolis, trails saw a usage rate similar to summertime levels, and in Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle State Park, visitors increased by 165% year-over-year in the third week of March.
In Paris (France), green spaces are perceived as important not just for climate change resilience but also as a “refuge” during the crisis, and important public spaces in which gatherings can still respect social distancing measures. Paris is also planning to relocate part of its food production, to reduce the average distance travelled by food from its production to the Parisian consumer, which is currently of 660 km: an issue in terms of environmental impact, but also a threat of shortages in case of shock or blocked transport.
Montreal (Canada) also plans to increase the number of green spaces to ensure they are within walking distance for every resident.
Similarly, in Valencia (Spain), the crisis increased inhabitants’ appreciation of its green belt - which is protected as an integral part of its resilience strategy – not only for its long term climate change adaptation potential, but as an immediate and direct source of fresh food supply for the city.
The crisis raised awareness on the risks of shortages of resources and oversaturation of health facilities, prompting cities to secure, increase and relocate certain essential services and resource production. Seoul (Korea) has committed large investments in public healthcare, establishing a monitoring system of the pandemic, and new municipal facilities that include a public medical school, a research centre on infectious diseases and an epidemiological lab.
Cities have been collaborating with a wide range of actors, including the national and regional governments, urban stakeholders and citizens, in order to design and implement immediate, short-term and long-term responses to multiple dimensions of COVID-19 crisis. Domestic and international city networks, such as the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative, have been active in peer learning and exchanging knowledge and experience. They are also playing a key role in their dialogue with the regional and national levels and on the international stage, to call for immediate assistance, for coordinated actions during and after lockdowns, and for a holistic and integrated approach to long-term urban recovery and resilience. In many countries, differences in priorities and political contexts have often created some tensions across levels of government. Effective multi-level dialogue and coordination mechanisms have been essential to ease them and manage the challenging situations.
Dialogue with national and regional levels of government was crucial for cities to effectively respond to the emergencies in the early stages of the pandemic, particularly to manage healthcare capacity, and remains so as countries are rolling out ambitious economic recovery packages. Dialogue has been key for national decision-makers to understand cities’ needs and consider them in the design of national legal and financial instruments:
Mexico City (Mexico) entered into a close cooperation with the state government, to coordinate the capacity of hospitals in the region. Both levels of governments are now expecting to carry on this dialogue on another urgent issue: water management in a context of scarcity.
In Colombia, the national government allowed mayors to intervene in the health sector to coordinate their emergency response, for instance enabling Bogota to pull the 90% of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds from private clinics to put it at the disposal of all patients. The city also built a temporary hospital of 2,000 beds and increased the number of medical teams intervening at people’s homes from 4 to 103.
In the United Kingdom, coordination between cities, local authorities and national government has been crucial in the fight against the pandemic, and a set of funding schemes have been established to help small businesses. In order to get these funds to businesses as quickly as possible, they are being channelled through local authorities. A total of GBP 13 billion (over EUR 15 billion) are being made available as grants rather than loans.
In Turkey, the national government announced direct financial aid for regions. Local agencies are also proposing measures and providing financial support to SMEs and other relevant institutions. Pandemic boards have been established in each city to monitor the measures and take additional ones if necessary, ensuring the continuity of local public services.
In Spain, territorial policy has been reformed to allow local authorities to hold virtual meetings and to allow municipalities to be able to use their budgetary surpluses specifically with COVID-19. The autonomy given to municipalities to have their own responses, complements the innovations from civil society and NGOs. The Spanish Federation of Cities and Provinces (FEMP) is playing an important role in the management of this crisis and has been gathering regularly with the government to draft agreements for the post-pandemic, including economic ones.
Some cities took leadership in developing or advocating for innovative policy responses to the crisis, which were then scaled up at the national level. In the United Kingdom, Manchester, London, Birmingham and Liverpool spoke in a united voice to the national government, successfully advocating for making masks mandatory on public transport, and for the regional disaggregation of monitoring the R rate. Seoul (Korea) took a leadership role in the immediate crisis response, through the installation of crisis centres, social distancing, and mandatory masks in public transport. Such measures were then adopted nationally afterwards. As cities are coming out of emergency phases, and defining recovery strategies, some are further calling for more financial support from higher levels of government, as well as more budgetary flexibility, to ensure long term responses are adapted to local needs, and invest in increased resilience, sustainability, and equity.
The COVID-19 response and recovery processes have proven that domestic and international city networks can play a key role in peer learning, exchanging knowledge and experience, and in taking leadership in policy making. More details on COVID-related initiatives by global institutions and networks can be found in Annex C.
The OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative created a private discussion forum where cities can exchange practices on how to respond to the global health crisis and create more resilient, green and inclusive cities that leave no one behind. At the webinar The COVID crisis in cities: a tale of two lockdowns within a new Inequality Matters webinar series, Champion Mayors shared their efforts to reduce sources of vulnerability and provided useful lessons to build greater resilience for the future. Many Champion Mayors have also been actively leading innovative responses and recovery strategies at the global scale, as examples of this note demonstrate.
The Global Resilient Cities Network has been particularly active throughout the coronavirus crisis, mobilising its community of chief resilience officers to regularly share expertise and their experiences in responding to the crisis. They also launched an open, participatory and collaborative platform in which cities could exchange knowledge and learning, and identify key actions and initiatives to address the impacts of the crisis and further future proof their systems in the face of global challenges.
C40 Cities established a Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, which issued a statement of principles calling for a healthy, sustainable, and equitable economic recovery from Covid-19. This statement urges that the recovery not be a return to business as usual, which was on track for 3°C of over-heating, and stresses the importance of adhering to public health and scientific expertise, guaranteeing public services, addressing equity, and pursuing efforts to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. It notably commits to use their collective voices to ensure that governments support both cities and the investment needed in cities, and that international and regional institutions invest directly in cities to support a healthy, equitable and sustainable recovery. In July, these principles were further detailed into the C40 Mayors Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery, outlining measures focused on creating green jobs, investing in crucial public services, protecting mass transit, supporting essential workers, and giving public spaces back to people and nature.
The Eurocities network also made a joint declaration entitled EU recovery powered by cities calling the European Commission to involve cities more in EU recovery programmes and for direct access for cities to European funding.
Multidisciplinary policy coordination has been essential to monitor the socio-economic situation, generate timely policy responses and coordinate action plans for recovery.
Barcelona (Spain) set up a Centre for Economic Response Coordination (CECORE), to monitor and forecast the economic impact of the crisis, and design a coordinated response.
United States cities have mobilised multidisciplinary bodies, such as task forces and dedicated to designing or advising on recovery strategies, such as the Greater Houston Business Recovery Center, focused on a business-led recovery initiative; Washington DC’s District Economic Recovery Team, and the Reopen DC Advisory Group, composed of 11 sector committees to orient the recovery along the values of health, opportunity, prosperity, and equity. Chicago launched a COVID-19 Recovery Taskforce, mobilising experts from a wide range of industries, regional government leaders, community-based partners and policymakers, articulated around five core committees: i) Policy & Economic Stimulus Committee, ii) the Mental & Emotional Health Committee, iii) the Marketing & Business Development Committee, iv) Regional Coordination Committee, v) Economic and Social Change Committee. The County of Los Angeles established an Economic Resiliency Task Force, with 13 sector-specific work groups including, “Business”, “Healthcare”, “Labour”, and “Restaurants / Leisure / Hospitality”. Denver established an Economic Relief & Recovery Council to serve as an advisory group to provide recommendations on mitigating and preventing further negative impacts of COVID-19.
Another key lesson is the importance of engaging urban stakeholders and citizens for the development of recovery strategies from the COVID-19 crisis. Multi-disciplinary experts and citizens have been playing an important role not only in ensuring that strategies are more comprehensive and multi-sectoral, but also in making the processes more inclusive for consensus building and increased ownership. In a survey conducted by the Global Cities Resilience Network to Chief Resilience Officers of 47 cities, 94% declared they were engaging stakeholders in recovery planning, and 83% listed multiple stakeholders as planning and delivery partners. Stakeholders ranged from different tiers of government both horizontally and vertically, research and academic institutions, multilateral organisations and banks, philanthropic foundations and funders, and community-level stakeholders.
Bristol (United Kingdom) is developing its One City Economic Recovery Plan through the One City Economic Board, building on outputs from engagement with thousands of businesses, voluntary and community organisations, experts, academics, and partner organisations through a series of webinars, surveys and interactive workshops. This is in line with the established One City Approach: a mechanism to bring the city together in a new way; reflecting that cities are systems and that the decisions of one institution impact upon the whole city. It is supported by a leadership structure that brings together hundreds of partners from across businesses, voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE), health, statutory services, education, transport, housing, environment and the city’s universities.
Barcelona (Spain) is working on a city pact with stakeholders from the social, cultural and sports sectors, as well as political parties, to reflect on how to best answer the crisis.
The city of Toronto (Canada) has established the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild (TORR) to coordinate engagement and research, develop the city’s recovery strategies and recommend actions to rebuild and reimagine the way the city delivers programs and services. Residents, businesses and communities will play a significant role in successfully restoring communities as well as social and economic infrastructure. The city will continue to engage with institutions, the community and partners to get input that will help shape the city’s actions around recovery and rebuild. The city asked for citizen views on how Toronto can recover and rebuild by taking a survey completed on 15 July, 2020.
Montreal (Canada) is working with universities and businesses to define the future hybrid system of city, finding a balance between remote working and studying, and maintaining physical activities in the city.
Sydney (Australia) is in the midst of preparing a City Recovery Plan, which is being informed by inputs collected from a survey opened to public consultation between 18 May to 3 June. This survey has allowed the city to receive direct input and suggestions on behalf of local businesses, property owners, organisations, residents, workers, students and other groups, which will be made available in a public report. The city has also invited all residents to submit additional feedback, and has specifically provided support for residents with hearing or speech impairments or in need of an interpreter.
Melbourne (Australia), also opened an online platform for residents to participate and share how the crisis has changed their priorities and perspective on the future of the city, which will serve to inform their long term recovery plan.
To support its tourism recovery, Valmiera (Latvia) organised a hackathon to generate and finance ideas and projects to facilitate Latvian and Estonian tourism back to the city.
Life after COVID-19 will likely be a life with COVID-19. Beyond the public health emergency to reduce the spread of the virus and protect citizens’ health, the pandemic and its aftermath are prompting cities to rethink how they deliver services, how they plan their space and how they can resume economic growth. Some cities are already looking beyond the crisis to the recovery efforts that will be required following the COVID-19 outbreak. Cities have always been places of creativity and innovation, and local leaders are ensuring this will be the case once again.
There is certainly momentum now to take bold, courageous decisions that can be politically costly but are more socially acceptable than they were a few months ago. Post-crisis efforts can be turned into an opportunity to improve people’s lives and stimulate innovation: from extensive use of digital solutions, to decentralised production, remanufacturing, and restructuring of supply chains to respond to goods shortages. Civic duty and community involvement are prevailing over individual interest to protect vulnerable groups. This can inspire lasting behavioural shifts to make cities more resilient and more efficiently connected with rural areas, in terms of the way goods are produced, energy consumed and transport organised.
The post COVID-19 recovery has the potential to build a “new normal” in cities, reducing the vulnerability of economic, social and environmental systems. Typically, projections on the impact of demographic change, urbanisation and climate change on cities may threaten the social wellbeing and economic growth of current and future generations. In the face of such megatrends, cities can accelerate their efforts to put in place actions to become more resilient, greener, circular and smarter, before a new crisis may hit.
Global agendas, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, provide a key opportunity for national, regional and local governments to advance a new sustainable development paradigm as well as to prioritise investments and resources to recover from the pandemic. Global agendas also provide a common roadmap and vision to engage local stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society in co-creating and building the “new normal”.
Key lessons from urban resilience show that three steps are required to institute effective risk management: preparation, prevention and response. While this note focused on responses, preparation and prevention should guide future actions. Resilience in cities can be achieved not only by responding to a crisis, but by preparing for future crises and preventing them. Preparation provides a foundation to manage and limit damage, while considering the cost and time required for recovering from crisis. Prevention is a proactive way to reduce exposure to social, economic and environmental crisis in the long-term through regulation, fiscal instruments as well as investment in resilient urban infrastructure.
The COVID-19 crisis and the responses to it underline the importance and potential of long-term strategies for cities to be more inclusive, greener and smarter in their recovery efforts and the underlying governance and financing needs to enable transformation (Figure 1).
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expand in many parts of the world and a number of cities are still under lockdown, incrementally relaxing or re-introducing strict restrictions due to the ‘second-wave’, many cities have already started developing their long-term strategies to recover from its devastating economic impact and to build back better for a more resilient future. Some cities are investing in education and skill development to support the most vulnerable people and make the post COVID-19 society more inclusive. Other cities aim to seize their economic stimulus packages as opportunities for greening their cities and their economy. Importantly, many of these emerging strategies are holistic rather than sectoral, reflecting the wide-spread impacts of the pandemic and cities’ ambition to foster multiple dimensions of sustainability. They are also being developed in partnership with citizens, firms and civil society, to make sure that the policy-making process itself is inclusive.
With this as a background, Part II of this note summarises the latest development of city strategies for long-term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and towards resilience to future shocks. The examples collected from 33 cities are presented in five categories. Three cross-cutting sections focus on strategies related to: i) inclusive recovery, ii) green recovery, and iii) smart recovery; and two additional sections provide a deep dive into iv) recovery strategies in the tourism, culture and creative industries; and v) holistic strategies for urban resilience. More detailed information and references for each of the below mentioned initiatives are accessible in Annex A.
The COVID-19 crisis highlights the importance of addressing already existing social inequality. While lockdowns have affected a broad range of businesses, small and medium enterprises that rely on physical interaction were put in the most difficult situation. Although having affected all segments of society, the crisis disproportionately impacted vulnerable populations such as women, children, the homeless and the elderly. In order to close the gap and address structural inequality in the recovery from COVID-19, cities have taken a variety of measures in their recovery efforts, especially for local business support and employment, affordable housing construction and renovation and support to vulnerable households.
The pandemic has strongly affected the job market globally and millions face unemployment and poverty. While national governments around the world announced measures to protect their economies from the enormous economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, city administrations also have a role to play in developing locally tailored recovery strategies, boosting local economy with public investment and supporting small and medium enterprises. Many cities have developed recovery visions or plans, with a broad range of stimulus measures, including investment in infrastructure, tax reduction and financial assistance:
On 17 June, the city of Chicago (US) laid out a vision and guidelines for reopening the economy. An initiative of the Chamber’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force includes multi-dimensional action items, including investments in infrastructure. USD 8.5 billion will be invested in the modernisation of O’Hare Airport. Additionally, Chicago pushes to accelerate zoning and planning approval for major projects like the Obama Presidential Center, ONE Central, Lincoln Yards, and the Michael Reese Hospital site development, as well as for companies seeking to build data centres locally.
Houston (US) has established the Greater Houston Business Recovery Center to build a business-led recovery initiative, which will provide guidance on policy and financing tied to recovery programs.
On 29 May, the city council of Madrid (Spain) reported lowering taxes to promote the recovery of commerce, leisure, hospitality and culture. The reduction will lead to a drop of more than EUR 66 million in business taxes. Moreover, by 2020, the requirement to maintain employment is eliminated in order to maintain all economic activity and accelerate the recovery, although those companies that maintain it will see the bonus in the Economic Activities Tax (IAE) extended to 2021.
The city of Barcelona (Spain) has established an economic recovery project, "Barcelona Never Stops", with the implementation of a series of measures aimed at the regeneration of the economic and social tissue, as well as the economic stimulation of the city. The plan, lasting until the summer of 2021, aims to promote new business models to make Barcelona a more resilient city, encourage local consumption, protect and boost employment and relaunch the city's international reputation. In order to achieve these objectives, the city will carry out a series of measures in the following areas: grants and funding, capacity building, promotion and communication, economic instruments and adapting the existing legislation.
On 8 May, the city of Bilbao (Spain) approved a plan (Bilbao Aurrera) for social cohesion, economic recovery, employment and culture with over 50 measures. With a total budget of EUR 15 million directly contributed by the City Council, it will address three specific areas: Social Cohesion with more than EUR 2.2 million; Economy and Employment with more than EUR 11.4 million; and Culture with more than EUR 1,3 million. In the economic field, the main measures have been designed in two directions. On the one hand, in the fiscal field, certain taxes and fees will be lowered for a total value of EUR 3 million, for example on terraces (75%), rubbish (95%) or taxis. On the other hand, Bilbao will create bonds worth EUR 2.5 million to stimulate consumption in commerce, hotels and tourism.
San Francisco (US) has convened the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force in order to design a strategy to guide the city in its efforts to recover economically. The task force will be organised around three primary areas: i) jobs and business support (namely for SMEs); ii) vulnerable populations; iii) economic development. Over 30 members conducted research through interviews, focus groups, town halls, and surveys, hearing from more than a thousand people to prepare final recommendations on overall economic recovery that will be presented in August.
Maringa (Brazil) created a task force on 29 June to develop the Economic and Social Development Recovery Plan, based on a partnership between the city government and Sebrae (Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service). The plan aims to provide job creation, new investments, capacity building, stimulate law reform, benefits and credit access, among other initiatives to boost the economy. The plan is based on citizens’ engagement and also involves, academia, civil society and the private sector.
Paraty (Brazil) launched a COVID-19 economic recovery plan that includes a municipal program to support informal workers, with a specific project for street commerce, and a culture incentive program based on public-private partnerships. In the mid-term, measures focus on decentralising the tourism sector, as the city economy relies on touristic activities and gastronomy. In the long-term, measures involve renovation and refurbishment of public areas, such as the historic centre and the pier, and the improvement of the sewage network in the historic centre in areas where there is no sanitation infrastructure.
Cities have also developed specific programmes to support local businesses, especially small and medium sized firms, with a variety of measures including financial assistance, promotion and campaign, encouraging citizens to support their community businesses, help in teleworking, flexible use of public spaces and vocational training:
Boston (US) established the “Reopen Boston Fund”, to support small businesses with a majority of employees working in close proximity to clients and each other.
As part of its economic support programme, the city of Frankfurt (Germany) is promoting local shops with a campaign. Posters, print and online ads are being used to advertise local businesses and restaurants, or to encourage citizens to take advantage of the numerous delivery options. The aim is to get citizens and guests to support local businesses.
On 29 May, Nice (France) launched an employment pact to support the economic recovery after COVID-19. Mayor Christian Estrosi announced an additional budget of EUR 3.5 million, aimed at the most vulnerable entrepreneurs and public authorities, as well as strategic SMEs in the region. The programme is targeting the economic sectors most strongly impacted, such as tourism and trade, but also industry and innovation in order to strengthen economic attractiveness.
Paris (France) developed a plan to support businesses, cultural actors and associations. The plan commits the city to the following engagements for the next 5 years: 9 out of 10 service providers of the city will be SMEs; EUR 6 million will be invested in businesses, artisans, cultural enterprises, and young innovative firms; EUR 5 million will support the tourism sector; and EUR 4 million will support actors of the social and solidarity-based economy.
Tokyo (Japan) developed a recovery roadmap including guidelines for businesses to prevent the spread of viruses, accompanied by subsidies for small and medium-sized firms to invest in appropriate facilities and equipment. In parallel, and to support the hotel industry, it set up a program matching hotels providing teleworking facilities with employees who cannot telework at home, including a subsidy program to enhance wheelchair accessibility.
Milan (Italy) developed a comprehensive recovery strategy, “Milan 2020: Adaptation Strategy”, which includes promoting digitalisation in services, production and distribution, boosting local production and management of resources, supporting the recovery of construction sector, and assisting social innovation and start-ups.
The city of Hoboken (US) established COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Strategy, which permits businesses to expand outdoor space on the sidewalk, converts curbside parking space into shared outdoor dining spaces as strEATERIES and Parklets, and creates a framework for businesses to operate further into the street during scheduled road closures.
A new style of restaurants and bars that uses public pedestrian space is also being experimented on in Saga prefecture (Japan). The programme “SAGA Night Terrace Challenge” is being piloted in a central business district, in cooperation with Saga City and local business association, to provide safer spaces for customers to eat and drink, as well as supporting local businesses.
Yokohama (Japan) created a website “Takeout and Delivery Yokohama”, to introduce and support the restaurants, which are offering meal takeaways or deliveries. The city asked owners to register their restaurants, and residents can search their neighbourhood on a map.
The COVID-19 crisis has also highlighted the lack of stable and affordable housing for low-income households and the infection risks of inadequate housing in deprived communities. In addition to short-term measures such as support to unemployment and income or provision of shelter for homeless populations, a longer-term government response is required to address poor housing conditions and alleviate the negative impacts of the health crisis. Some cities have initiated public investment or policy measures to expand the supply of adequate and affordable housing and improve disadvantaged neighbourhoods:
The City of Vienna (Austria) has announced 7 new municipal housing sites with 1,000 apartments to be built in the coming years. The new buildings will be spread all over Vienna to create a high-quality and affordable offer in attractive residential environments. The housing projects aim to provide future districts with pedestrian zones, green spaces, as well as sports and cultural facilities within walking distance. The start of construction is planned for 2022.
Mexico City (Mexico) will invest USD 1 billion to create around 1 million new jobs in the construction sector. The investment will cover public infrastructure and social housing. The plan is expected to contribute to the redevelopment of 13 urban corridors through housing projects, mostly housing improvement projects and new social housing in areas with good transport connection. For the city government, the investment in infrastructure and social housing is essential in the recovery strategy due to the multiplier effect and the indirect jobs it may create. The strategy also use resources for mobility projects that had already been announced before the crisis such as a new bus rapid transit line and two ‘cable buses’ (cableways) lines.
Liverpool (UK) developed a GBP 1.4 billion recovery plan, which includes the development of more than 200 new modular homes and community centres, and the renovation of 4,000 homes for vulnerable households in the most deprived neighbourhoods, which are also most at risk from COVID-19. The plan is estimated to provide an additional 12,000 construction jobs and 25,600 jobs in total.
Yokohama (Japan) is increasing subsidies to the owners of rental apartments for vulnerable residents, so that they can reduce rent for tenants whose income had been severely diminished by the pandemic.
Bogotá (Colombia) adjusted its Development Plan to face the different crises brought by COVID-19. The new version of the plan seeks to preserve employment levels and supports SMEs, develop digital trade, and create new competences for the labour market, telework and green jobs. To complement the Development Plan, the city government will conduct urban and real estate projects for the generation of employment and promotion of economic activities. This includes the maintenance of environmental sustainability; development of a technological conversion fund; promotion of urban and periurban agriculture; and maintenance of environmental sustainability. Particular focus will be on fostering the entrepreneurship and employability of women.
Recognising that COVID-19 is likely to hit vulnerable communities the hardest, cities have taken measures to mitigate the impact on fragile members of society. Cities are particularly well positioned to play this role, as they are closer to citizens and can better understand local needs. Vulnerable groups include those who may be physically and economically more exposed to the pandemic. In addition to short-term measures such as counselling, food provision and shelters (see Part III for more information), city administrations have developed long-term strategies and investment plans that are specifically targeted to help vulnerable segments of their communities, including children, the homeless, immigrants and the youth:
Nantes (France) is becoming a giant vegetable garden to feed vulnerable communities. The city is transforming green spaces, greenhouses, shared gardens or unoccupied green areas into vegetable gardens. Around 50 plots – a total of 25,000 m2 – will grow seasonable fruits and vegetables. In total, the city hopes to collect 25 tonnes of vegetables, to be distributed to about 1,000 vulnerable households via food banks, such as the Secours populaire, the Restos du cœur and neighbourhood associations. This strategy is a good example of leveraging co-benefits of greening the city with support to vulnerable communities. It effectively combines efforts to feed and support struggling families with greening public spaces.
Rotterdam (Netherlands) is investing in support for schoolchildren, and the homeless. A budget of EUR 2.4 million will help provide extra classes and courses in the summer to 6,000 schoolchildren from disadvantaged families and areas, to prevent them from falling behind. A EUR 20 million package for homeless services will support the provision of independent housing and better living conditions, as well as counselling, which will add to the 150 homeless shelters adapted to social distancing as an immediate response to the crisis. This illustrates how cities are exiting the emergency phase in response to the pandemic and implementing longer term strategies by building on and strengthening emergency responses set up during confinement.
In its recovery strategy, Milan (Italy) plans to ensure the participation of everyone including local institutions, representatives, non-profits, citizens’ associations and self-employed individuals through the enhanced use of digital tools and the implementation of appropriate measures for the most vulnerable in areas such as food, assistance and grocery delivery through collaboration with non-profits and donors.
New Orleans (US) will devote USD 750,000 in immediate financial relief to immigrant workers, who have been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. The funding will eventually be distributed to approximately 500 families for direct financial assistance. The city has also started a Mass Feeding Program that provides meals to vulnerable residents in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
As of June 2020, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (Turkey) has supported a total of 860,000 families, particularly by allocating cash support and special shopping cards.
The region of Madrid (Spain) has presented a COVID-19 recovery plan which will launch scholarships for university students, as part of a grant of EUR 9 million from the regional government and EUR 3 million from universities. This will ensure that those most affected by the crisis can continue their studies at public universities. Likewise, research projects aimed at the treatment and diagnosis of COVID-19 will receive EUR 8 million.
Vienna (Austria) seeks to help young people who were severely affected by COVID-19 due to its impact on the labour market. Vienna invests EUR 17 million to help out the more than 16,000 young people currently without a job. The package includes intra-company vocational training, qualification passports, assistance for catching up the missed time and offers to enter into professions in health, care and IT, dedicated to the young generation.
The recovery from COVID-19 represents a clear opportunity for cities to make their economy greener. Investing in green measures in cities not only creates jobs and sets local conditions for long-term economic growth, but also reduces CO2 emissions, prepares communities for future climate related risks (e.g. flooding, extreme heat) and improves urban environmental quality (e.g. air pollution, biodiversity). Already, following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, policy makers designed green recovery packages, such as those focusing on expanding the use of renewable energy – in this respect, the current crisis offers better conditions for such green stimulus packages, because since then, the costs of renewable and other green technologies have seen steep declines. Recent OECD analysis has shown that national governments have a key role in driving the green recovery, but that most currently proposed national economic recovery measures are either not “green” enough or are outweighed by ongoing support for “brown” activities (e.g. fossil fuel subsidies). At the city-level, an increasing number of green recovery initiatives have emerged, displaying cities’ high level of ambition as well as their capacity to experiment innovative solutions. Cities around the world are already planning for life after COVID-19 with a variety of investments to achieve economic recovery and environmental sustainability, with particular emphasis on sustainable urban mobility and energy efficiency.
During lockdown periods, most cities experienced a significant drop in automobile traffic and a subsequent reduction of air pollution and CO2 emissions. As previously presented, in regions with lockdowns, there was a decrease of 50-75% in road transport activity and up to 95% in rush-hour traffic congestion in major cities, but these reductions have been temporary and have already been reversed in many cities re-emerging from lockdowns.
While most cities are already experiencing a sharp bounce-back as lockdown restrictions are being eased, the recent experience of reduced traffic and pollution has motivated many city leaders to pursue cleaner and more sustainable urban mobility. The most common sustainable urban mobility measures proposed by cities include investment in: active mobility infrastructure, such as bike lanes; improved public transport safety and accessibility, such as improved hygiene measures, contactless fare payment and broader service coverage; and low-emission transport options, such as electric vehicles and scooters. These investment options are in line with the overarching objective of an economic recovery, as infrastructure investment creates job opportunities and stimulates private investment in diverse economic sectors (e.g. construction, automobile, ICT), and as an effective urban mobility system is essential for the productivity of cities.
Cities around the world have widely promoted active mobility, mainly through investments in bicycle infrastructure. Cities have pursued this strategy primarily as a means of reducing personal vehicle use and demand for public transport, all while improving local air quality. Although often viewed as a short-term measure, prioritising active mobility will have long-term impacts on the use of vehicles in cities, since the infrastructure investments and priorities recently pursued by cities have been significant and will reshape many urban landscapes:
Claudia Lopez, mayor of Bogota (Colombia), recently announced an additional 35 km of cycleways, adding to the 550 km of cycleways already secured by an ambitious and proactive policy since the 1970s.
Giuseppe Sala, mayor of Milan (Italy) also announced that the city would retrofit 22 miles of streets over the summer to post-COVID-19 pedestrian use for cycling and walking. This is particularly welcome since Lombardy is one of the most polluted regions of Europe. These bold commitments towards micro and clean forms of urban mobility have inspired many other cities in the world.
The mayor of Paris (France) announced that 50 kilometres (30 miles) of lanes normally used by cars will be reserved for bicycles. Among them are avenue de la porte d'Orléans, avenue du Général-Leclerc (on the southern section), the Étoile tunnel and Porte Maillot. In addition, 30 streets will be designated pedestrian-only, in particular around schools, to avoid large groups of people gathering on sidewalks. The Rue de Rivoli, the main east-west thoroughfare through the heart of the French capital, is only for bikes as of 11 May. Only some vehicles are authorised to circulate on this street such as buses, cabs and delivery trucks, or even emergency vehicles and those for disabled people.
As a complement to pursuing active mobility, many cities are also rethinking the organisation of public space and optimisation of existing public transport in the long-term, since social distancing will be needed for months to come. To this end, cities have already begun embedding major revisions to urban planning priorities in their long-term strategies and visions, including by permanently closing roads, reserving public spaces for shared or electric vehicles, reorganising and aligning public transport options to reduce demand and increase coverage, and piloting smart green mobility options:
Seattle (US) will permanently close 20 miles to most vehicle traffic. This decision marks the permanent continuation of the “Stay Healthy Streets” initiative, which was launched in April as a temporary measure to provide urban residents with more space for social distancing and exercise during the lockdown.
Madrid (Spain) opened a new car park reserved entirely for shared vehicles in the end of May. The new space is located 25 meters from the avenue Capital of Spain, next to one of the exits of the Feria de Madrid metro station. This pilot project tries to promote sustainable mobility and promote inter-modality in this business area, where 10,000 inbound trips are recorded every day by private car.The city will also add 45 km of new bus lanes, which represents 30% of the current network, to support residents who want to use public transport.
Medellín (Colombia) is preparing to revive its economy after COVID-19, while seeking a 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, with a focus on transport. In particular, the city plans to expand bike lanes by almost 50% within three years, to 145 kilometres, and more than double the number of interconnected public transport lines, including overland trains, trams and cable car lines by 2030. Furthermore, the city is working to provide 50,000 electric bikes that residents can rent at a low cost – and it is committed to electrify all public transport by the end of the decade.
Seoul (Korea) will continue to pioneer smart green mobility options by implementing driverless vehicles, delivery of goods via robots and smart parking lots. These measures come in addition to fast tracking a bike lane system with express way, with an objective of attaining a modal share of 15% for bikes in 2030.
Rome (Italy) has approved its guidelines for shared electric scooters to allow for the introduction of several thousand scooters via two service providers.
Following a legalisation of rented e-scooters on 4 July 2020, Middlesbrough (UK) became the first city to launch a city-wide rental e-scooter pilot programme to lay the groundwork for more systematic implementation across the UK in an effort to discourage urban residents from crowding public transport or returning to personal polluting vehicles.
Rotterdam (Netherlands) developed a mobility plan in coordination with its public transport company RET, and four companies providing bikes, electric bikes and scooters to enable an alternative transport offer. It is accompanied by a service on the application of the RET, which helps users find the most convenient and fastest way to complete their journey.
Dublin (Ireland) started to develop a “living” framework of mobility proposals together with the National Transport Authority at the beginning of May. This plan proposes to provide additional space for pedestrian areas and safe cycling facilities, as well as to implement various bus route changes required to enable cycling and walking measures while maintaining a strong public transport network.
Milan (Italy) launched the Adaptation strategy which sets comprehensive actions to: reduce travel demand (e.g. promoting smart and remote work models); improve and diversify mobility options (e.g. promoting bicycles, electric scooters, shared vehicles); increase public transport safety (e.g. limiting the number of people in public buses and subways, reducing crowds at bus stops and train stations with safety distancing); clear sidewalks; integrate public transport with other mobility systems; enhance automation of transport and parking tickets and passes; and to invest in short-term parking spaces (e.g. for delivery of essential goods for healthcare and emergency services). The plan also aims to rethink the timing, timetables and the rhythm of the city, to maximise flexibility and spread the mobility demand over time, encouraging more flexible timetables for schools and workers, and extending opening hours of services and businesses, as well as live cultural performances. It also intends to reclaim public spaces for wellbeing, leisure, and sports, with a gradual reopening of parks and sport facilities. It also commits to ensuring a Piazze Aperte (open squares) in every neighbourhood, through tactical urbanism and pedestrianisation, and extends terraces over parking spaces, while limiting the speed limit to 30km/h in the whole city.
In the United States, it is reported that at least 67 transport agencies have developed a restoration or recovery plan to COVID-19. Transport agencies are also considering several operating changes, such as consolidating or enhancing service on routes (44 agencies), staff reassignments (42 agencies), and the use of work teams serving at different times (31 agencies).
Washington DC’s (US) “ReOpen DC” outlines a roadmap with a focus on transport usage in a context that will be marked by COVID-19 for months to come. Specific measures to rethink the orientation of public spaces include prioritising wider sidewalks, increasing bike lanes and reassigning more lanes for the Lifeline Network bus corridors. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has also prepared a plan focusing on stabilisation through the summer – where construction and reparation works will be widely deployed to capitalise on low ridership rate – and a managed re-entry starting in September, where bus routes will be reassigned and aligned with the metro system’s modified timetables to reduce crowding. The WMATA is also boosting efforts to bundle fares between modes of transport and to roll out contactless payments in an integrated manner.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) – made up of more than 1,500 public and private sector members across the US and Canada – has published wide documentation, including a checklist for restoring public transport services during a pandemic, guidance on disinfecting transport, and a white paper on safeguarding public transport employees and users, among others. In April, the APTA created a new Mobility Recovery and Restoration Task Force, which is developing a roadmap for public transportation services in the post COVID-19 pandemic world. The results of the Task Force will include a set of recommendations covering a wide range of issues critical to public transportation’s future success, including safeguarding employees and riders, public and rider confidence, and customer-focused operations, as well as resiliency, equity and societal needs.
Cities are using this time to invest in urban upgrading, which can allow their buildings to operate at maximum energy efficiency after COVID-19, and save on energy bills. Lessons learned from past green stimulus packages have shown that certain fields, such as investing in energy efficiency and retrofitting, contribute significantly to job creation and economic activity in the construction sector while reducing emissions.
The modernisation of buildings, for instance, can create a significant number of jobs that will inject money into local value chains, many of which will be owned by SMEs. For example, on 1 June, Metropole of Lille (France) announced its EUR 66 million recovery plan that includes investment in the energy efficient renovation of 3,000 social housing units, more than 3,600 private homes and 600 student residences for the next three years. The project aims to promote both job creation in the construction sector and low-carbon transition. The city of Copenhagen (Denmark), is implementing municipal construction projects at an accelerated pace, which are estimated to create between 50 and 100 new jobs in the city administration. This is facilitated by lifting of restrictions on capital expenditures on public procurement.
Lille (France) is injecting about EUR 32 million, in the form of different business support systems, into its local economy. The “Rebound Fund” will allocate EUR 20 million to small businesses, such as shopkeepers, craftsmen, and farmers, who will have to pledge in favour of an ecological or energy transition to benefit from the fund. A new facility dedicated to small companies or associations with less than ten employees has been created, which will provide loans up to EUR 6.6 million that can be paid back over a 3-to 5-year period.
In parallel to energy efficiency measures, cities are also investing in renewable energy projects. For example, the city of Seoul (Korea) enacted an ambitious solar plan in 2018 aiming to place solar panels on all municipal buildings and a million homes between 2018 and 2022, which is estimated to create 4,500 jobs. To date, the city has installed 98 MW of solar PV systems on municipal assets, more than 13,125 households have received solar panels, and emissions of the air pollutant PM2.5 have been cut by 8.7 tonnes . In addition, in March, Seoul became the first Korean city to announce a subsidy plan – KRW 1 billion has been allocated for 2020 – for Building Integrated Photovoltaic in new commercial and residential constructions. Swansea Bay City (UK) announced a GBP 60 million marine energy project in June that will help tackle climate change while reviving Pembrokeshire’s economy in the wake of Covid-19. Pembroke Dock Marine is led by the private sector, with support from Pembrokeshire County Council. The project is expected to generate more than 1,800 jobs in the next 15 years. The project is made up of four elements including a 90km2 Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone, delivered by Wave Hub Limited that will enable the deployment of future energy generating technologies as well as Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence – a technology, innovation and research centre delivered by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.
Digitalisation has played a pivotal role in city’s emergency responses to the pandemic. With many countries now transitioning away from the lockdown, cities are solidifying and expanding the use smart city tools to facilitate and make new rhythms and habits permanent as the need for social distancing continues, while staying alert and monitoring the risk of contagion. The virtual space is further becoming integral to city’s public spheres as municipal services, information and means of participation and cultural resources are digitalised. Adequate internet therefore becomes an essential service, for which universal access needs to be guaranteed through infrastructure.
The crisis pushed many cities to accelerate their pursuit of digital solutions both during lockdowns but also in the long-term as part of their participatory processes to define recovery plans:
Tallinn (Estonia) organised a hackathon, while Antwerp (Belgium), Cologne (Germany) and Madrid (Spain) launched calls for start-ups to create innovative new ways to overcome challenges related to COVID-19. In its call to start-ups and innovative SMEs for “returning to normal”, Madrid, requested solutions to three challenges: facing the economic reality after the pandemic; redefining the concept of cities in the face of the need for new models of interpersonal relationships; and seeking solutions for those groups with special needs. Nice (France) developed new digital crisis logistics management tools from which Microsoft will draw inspiration to help other communities.
The sudden lockdowns imposed across the world resulted in many schoolchildren needing to continue their education from home. Learning from lessons during these periods, cities have developed platforms and support measures to ensure a smoother distance learning experience, both in the short-term and in the long-term:
In Riga (Latvia), the Education, Culture and Sports Department of the city council introduced a digital platform to constitute a virtual class for schoolchildren. Bamberg (Germany), Istanbul (Turkey) and Tirana (Albania) have also developed digital learning platforms, with Tirana uploading all classes online on a free platform and broadcasting them on national television. Riga’s City Development Department is also designating one day a week as a remote working day, organising webinars on city planning documents rather than in person meetings.
Tokyo (Japan) committed to accelerate its efforts towards its digital transformation, with the promotion of online learning, telemedicine, telecommuting, and the digitalisation of public services. The smart school project aims to enable all public school children and students in Tokyo to study online.
Experiences learned from the sudden and unexpected need caused by COVID-19 for most urban residents to remain at home and limit physical contact have pushed city governments to accelerate their efforts to digitalise municipal services:
The adaptation strategy 2020 of Milan (Italy) includes a section on digital services, planning for expansion, simplification and acceleration of the provision of these digital services for citizens, and the strengthening of the ICT network to support it. Digital tools are leveraged to support and complement public initiatives and sectors. For instance, the plan aims to develop a contagion monitoring system. In an effort to increase access to culture, the plan also expands online library catalogues, and promotes online cultural initiatives, alongside “traditional” live events. Finally it will develop a digital platform for the city of Milan to rethink delivery logistics and encourage local consumption.
Florence (Italy) is also committing to the full digitalisation of municipal services, aiming to go from the current 85% of digitalised citizen services to 100%. This also includes the digitalisation of building and landscaping practices, which aims to simplify the authorisation process. The city is also committed to facilitate remote and agile working, by ensuring the provision of appropriate services and amenities, and safe environments. To ensure universal access to the necessary internet connection for telework, called “right to the network”, the city is mapping the provision and quality of fiber optic connection to identify areas that need to be better serviced.
Other cities, such as Seoul (Korea), also recognise that these digitalisation efforts must be accompanied by public interventions to close the digital gap and increase technological access for all.
Tourism is a crucial sector for many cities, supporting jobs, businesses and services. The domestic and international tourism sector combined directly contributes, on average, to 4.4% of GDP, and 21.5% of service exports in OECD countries. Revised OECD scenarios indicate that the implied shock could amount to a 60-80% decline in the international tourism economy in 2020, depending on the duration of the crisis and the speed with which travel and tourism rebounds. Compared with rural areas, cities are more likely to be affected since visitors will likely favour rural and natural areas at least in the short term.
While domestic tourism is expected to recover in 2021, international tourism recovery is likely to take two years or more. Some cities heavily relying on international tourism are proactive and developing strategies for attracting international tourists. For instance, the City of Reykjavik (Iceland) announced an action package for tourism including a marketing campaign for Reykjavik as a destination once the situation returns to normal. Milan’s (Italy) Adaptation Strategy also includes the promotion of Milan as a “Safe City” complying with health protocols, and plans for the progressive reopening of creative and cultural activities to local, then to international tourism, when recognised as safe.
On the other hand, some other cities took the crisis as an opportunity to rethink tourism development for more sustainable business models. For some, recent reflections on culture and the function of the city also led to a desire to shift away from large-scale tourism, which in some cases ended up being detrimental to the social fabric. Florence (Italy) aims to recover 30% of its tourism activity by the end of the year without large-scale tourism, which had left inhabitants feeling dispossessed of their city centre. The plan Rinasce Firenze (Florence reborn) now blocks entry of touristic buses to the city centre. In the long term, buses will have to stop at the periphery of the city. The plan also intends to reinvest the centre with local uses for residents and businesses, and will therefore block any new licenses for hotels and restaurants. Barcelona (Spain) and Budapest (Hungary) also share a determination to reorient tourism towards a more cultural and family-friendly model.
Together with tourism, the culture and creative industries are among the sectors most severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent crisis. Many cities have therefore oriented their recovery strategies towards the support of these sectors. Key examples of recovery strategies with a focus on the culture and creative industries sector include:
The city of Madrid (Spain) has approved a recovery plan for cultural institutions and activities, “The Madrid Applauds Plan” (Plan Aplaude Madrid), endowed with EUR 7.5 million. Spaces dedicated to contemporary art, performance and cultural exchange will be eligible for bi-annual programming grants, and the City Council extended a 25% reduction of the Real Estate Tax and the Economic Activities Tax for 2020. EUR 2.2 million will be devoted to renovating two emblematic spaces in Madrid, the Circo Price Theater and, after almost four decades of waiting, the Fernán Gómez De la Villa Cultural Center.
London (UK) also set up EUR 2.6 million emergency fund to support at risk culture and creative industries, including grassroots music venues, artist workplaces and independent cinemas.
Vilnius (Lithuania) has also a plan for recovery, called ‘Vilnius’ Plan 4×3’. The plan includes aid measures focused on: individuals, businesses, and culture. Culture will be a priority for Vilnius, as the plan allocates around EUR 1 million to the sector. It includes financial support to cultural and creative industries, partial reimbursement of cancelled events, a one-off support to stage arts, exemption from select charges, engagement of educational institutions in cultural educational events, and strengthening of festivals by involving local authors and performers.
In addition, many cities have focused on musical events to support the music industry and local venues, and provide accessible entertainment to residents. For instance, every night the global initiative United We Stream is livestreaming a concert from a music venue from a range of cities such as Manchester, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Bangkok, raising thousands of dollars to support performers and organisers of the music industry. Similarly, New Orleans (US) organised a local livestream – Band Together – to support its musicians and local venues. The Colombus Music Commission (US) organises curbside concerts for elderly residents stuck at home,
Cities are perceiving the recovery as an opportunity for drastic changes towards more sustainable, equitable and resilient societies. This leap is prompted in part because the COVID-19 crisis starkly exposed existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. In addition, the disruption in the way of living experienced during the lockdown has made people more ready to change their behaviours and accept more radical changes. Milan (Italy), in its Adaptation Plan 2020, is for instance using the exit from the crisis to question fundamental characteristics and expectations of the city and its scale, and the needs for increased wellbeing. Milan has outlined key questions raised for its approach to the recovery, such as: “Which societies and which communities do we want to be and to build after the crisis?; Is it our main goal just to come back as fast as possible to what we had 'before’?; Are we looking to 'benefit' from the crisis and take a leap forward to improve our city and quality of life?”.
Recognising the need to adopt a holistic resilience lens to urban development, many cities are seeking to update or develop overarching resilience strategies:
Malmo (Sweden) noted that previous crises and shocks had already contributed to strengthen resilience, such as the expansion of green spaces to mitigate flooding, or more efforts towards food security. The city is now adding resilience criteria to planning development and procurement processes.
Milan (Italy) is also updating its resilience strategies, as their initial resilience assessment had not considered the risk of pandemics, which also confirmed the need to better incorporate worst-case scenarios in urban planning to better prepare for outlier risks.
In Paris (France) the crisis was an eye-opener to the importance of considering resilience as a lens to be applied to all sectors of government. The measures in the city’s 2017 resilience strategy proved useful during the crisis, such as the mobilisation of a citizen solidarity network (aris volunteers) to check up on elderly people or the use of communications to raise awareness about prevention measures. The crisis prompted the city to reflect on how to update the strategy to integrate the lessons learned from the crisis and better prepare for future crises.
Izmir (Turkey) prepared a “COVID-19 Resilience Action Plan”, which highlighted the city’s previously existing preventative measures for disaster and crisis situations, and introduced new measures specifically designed for the management of COVID-19 and its aftermath.
Cities are also integrating the context of COVID-19 recovery into the updates of their long-term development strategies. For example, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Tallinn (Estonia), Vienna (Austria) and Utrecht (Netherlands) are using the UN 2030 Agenda of SDGs as a roadmap for their city development strategies (e.g. Utrecht's Healthy Urban Living strategy, Vienna's Smart City Wien). While these strategies have already been in place before COVID-19, cities are now using the global policy frameworks and facilitating their uptake as policy tools rather than compliance agendas to guide the design and implementation of their recovery strategies.
Building upon these city strategies, below are some action-oriented policy recommendations for governments, at all levels, to work together in building back better cities in light of lessons learned from COVID-19. They also build on earlier guidance provided by the OECD on disaster risk management, urban resilience, as well as the OECD Principles on Urban Policy adopted in March 2019.
To build inclusive cities that provide opportunities for all, all levels of government should:
Provide efficient social and community services for disadvantaged groups such as health care and home care (i.e. elderly and homeless people), through the design and implementation of ambitious social innovation strategies and a repurposing of empty buildings;
Ensure that those left behind (i.e. migrants, low-wage workers) are targeted with customised employment and activation programmes that are adaptable, relevant, flexible and respond to the new needs of the local labour market after the crisis;
Take measures to adjust housing quantity, quality and affordability to the variety of housing needs, with a view to promote social cohesion and integration with sustainable transport modes;
Improve accessibility to soft mobility, taking into account the needs of categories of people (i.e. elderly, families with children, disables) when rethinking the future of urban mobility in the post COVID-19 recovery phase (i.e. cycling as transport mode);
Promote equitable access to quality education and leverage the full potential of online education, especially for low-income youth, and foster collaboration between higher education institutions, businesses, local and regional governments, and civil society.
To build green cities that can transition to a low-carbon economy, all levels of governments should:
Address negative agglomeration externalities, such as traffic congestion and air pollution, by reducing the use of private cars through congestion charges and ad hoc regulation that account for specific exemptions, and by improving multi-modal transport, such as active and clean urban mobility (i.e. proximity & walkability; combining supply-side and demand-side transport management policies);
Exploit the advantages of urban density and urban form (compact or sprawl) through forward looking spatial and land use planning to prioritise climate-resilient and low-carbon urban infrastructure, for instance by designing and constructing green buildings and streets, and producing and procuring renewable energy where feasible;
Encourage more efficient use of resources, and more sustainable consumption and production patterns, notably by promoting circular economy to keep the value of goods and products at their highest, prevent waste generation, reuse and transform waste into resources.
Mainstream climate mitigation and adaptation priorities in stimulus packages and investments to recover from the crisis, for instance by designing conditional subsidies, preferential loans and fiscal incentives for green investment projects and business practices, while setting accompanying measures for the most vulnerable groups who may be disproportionately affected;
Stimulate the local economy (i.e. local food production), while rethinking short mile logistics.
To build smart cities that can leverage the full potential of innovation for residents’ well-being and foster inclusive growth, all levels of government should:
Ensure that new technology in public transport (i.e. app-based ride services) is inclusive and sustainable including to those with reduced mobility and those in underserved communities as well as those with lower access to technology, while safeguarding the privacy of individuals;
Adopt appropriate regulation for the sharing and gig economy to further employment security, protect the public interest and workers’ social safety nets, considering social distancing rules to be applied in the long run;
Advance the data measurement agenda to better assess the smart cities’ performance and their contribution to urban residents well-being and inclusive growth;
Leverage digitalisation to deliver more efficient, sustainable, affordable and inclusive local public services, such as real-time data, electronic congestion tolls, smart parking systems, IoT sensors, smart contracts;
Have in place a framework to support cities in using public procurement for innovation to purchase innovation driven solutions.
To build inclusive, green and smart cities, governments should leverage good governance as a means to design and implement successful strategies and policies, in shared responsibility with stakeholders:
Promote an agile and flexible model of city governance through innovative collaborative tools, partnerships or contracts that put the interest of local residents at the centre and increase resilience, including inter-municipal and international collaboration and public-private partnerships;
Co-ordinate responsibilities and resources across levels of government to meet concomitantly place-specific needs, national objectives, and global commitments related to health safety long term objectives, resilience and sustainable development, in an effective and transparent manner;
Adopt a functional approach at metropolitan level to policy action based on where people live and work to tailor strategies and public service delivery to the diversity of urban scales;
Strengthen strategic management and innovation capabilities of local public officials to design and implement integrated and resilient urban strategies fit for complex challenges;
Foster citizen engagement to rethink social, environmental and economic measures for the recovery phase, by engaging community in decision-making and implementation and continuing to use digital tool for more permanent solutions to structural inequalities;
Harness innovative mechanisms to engage with the private sector in the recovery phase, notably property developers, urban planners, institutional investors, the financial sector, as well as with regulators, academia, and civil society;
Advance sustainable public procurement and infrastructure combining economic, social and environmental objectives, to create and shape local markets with an inclusive and green growth lens, change consumption and production patterns and transition from linear to circular economies in shared responsibility with business and citizens;
Support open government initiatives to expand and facilitate access to public information, increased transparency and accountability of decision-makers, as well as instances of co-creation of public policies;
Support systems and networks of cities, for example through city-to-city co-operation to learn from innovative responses at city level.
To implement integrated and forward-looking post recovery measures, governments should leverage adequate financial resources for inclusive, green and smart cities:
Facilitate the uptake of innovative financial mechanisms, which includes sustainability bonds to finance public spaces, urban infrastructure, neighbourhood development and affordable housing;
Exploit the potential of specific financial instruments in case of crisis or unpredicted economic shocks, such as contingency funds/reserve funds, lines of credit, and moratoriums on rent payments;
Leverage private sector funding where appropriate with a view to maximise related opportunities and address risks;
Encourage companies, notably SMEs, to prepare business continuity plans that also consider the risk of health crises and systemic shocks, and foresee, amongst others, flexible and remote working and digitalisation;
Explore innovative participatory budgeting for citizens to have a say on how public funds are spent, in particular for programmes and infrastructure projects pursuing inclusive objectives;
Promote financial models forms that encourage a social economy including those which engage citizens through cooperatives or other forms of social enterprises in areas such as decentralised renewable energy, food production and distribution.
As COVID-19 was spreading through cities around the world, with devastating impact on local communities and the wellbeing of residents, many local governments were at the frontline of combating the outbreak. While most national governments were taking the lead to minimise the spread of the virus, cities in many countries played an important role to complement responses to COVID-19 policy challenges on the ground. In many countries, the role of cities has been two-fold:
On the one hand, cities have acted as implementation vehicles of nation-wide measures such as the local support to and enforcement of the confinement measures, thanks to their resources and capacity (i.e. municipal police) or their local prerogatives (i.e. closure of public parks and gardens); and
On the other hand, cities have been spearheading more bottom-up, innovative responses while resorting to technology or other resources and building on their unique proximity to citizens (i.e. attention to vulnerable groups).
The examples collected from over 40 cities (accessible in Annex A) are clustered into six categories of policy responses (Figure 2), which have been deployed to varying degrees depending on the level of advancement of the pandemic:
Social distancing and confinement
Workplace practices and commuting patterns
Targeted measures for vulnerable groups
Local service delivery, notably water and waste
Support to business and economic recovery
Communication, awareness raising and digital tools
From identified policy responses, some observations can be made in terms of urban resilience and capacity to recover from shocks:
City responses need to be interpreted and considered in light of the early or late stages of the pandemic in their country. In all cases, lessons learned can help to better cope with future, reduce their impact and plan for recovery;
Cities are not equal in their capacity to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, across and within countries. This uneven capacity depends on various factors including the allocation of public service delivery (i.e. health care tends to be more centralised), population size (cities of a smaller size seem to have paid greater attention to inclusion), regulatory frameworks, fiscal capacity or the infrastructure in place;
Cities are undertaking a wide range of place-based responses, from immediate measures to provide information, protect their citizens (i.e. hygiene), minimise social contacts and support businesses (i.e. finance) to measures targeting longer-term impact (i.e. workplace reforms);
To implement many of their COVID-19 responses, cities have relied on innovation and online/digital tools, with internet, smart phone applications and technologies playing a critical role for communication, awareness-raising, teleworking but also learning and skills development;
In the first stage, most actions were short-term, but some cities progressively shifted towards more mid-term responses, most notably to re-imagine public life and spark changes in the design and use of public spaces in cities to allow more space for micro-mobility of cyclists and pedestrians;
While compact cities have long been praised for their benefits, the COVID-19 crisis triggered a debate on the vulnerability of densely populated cities, due to the close proximity among residents, the difficulty in applying social distancing measures, and the need to think how cities can guarantee a safe urban compact environment with nearby access to basic services.
Supply chain disruptions, weakened exports and investments, as well as restricted travels for both business and tourism, are likely to affect cities in the medium and long term.
Many cities have understood that the pandemic and its aftermath can be turned into an opportunity to make cities more resilient, circular, smarter, and better connected with rural areas, via the way goods are produced, the energy consumed and transport and other services organised.
Regardless of the levels of decentralisation, there is always a need for cities to work with national governments to ensure effective implementation of nation-wide measures, or develop place-based responses in line with national frameworks and initiatives.
City-to-city cooperation during the pandemic within countries and beyond national borders has been a key to success for cities to deal with the pandemic. Peer-to-peer exchanges between cities create unity, solidarity and promote openness and transparency, while city networks are providing useful information on best practices to tackle the crisis and recover effectively, taking into account economic, social and environmental objectives.
In the first stage of the pandemic, immediate responses consisted of enforcing social distancing and confinement measures such as:
Limiting all gatherings, cancelling or postponing events. Most cities have cancelled or postponed large gatherings. For example, Austin (US) cancelled the annual South by Southwest, a film and music festival scheduled in March that usually attracts over 400,000 participants for an economic impact of USD 355.9 million in 2019. Where large gatherings could not be cancelled or postponed (i.e. voting for the first round of municipal elections in France), hand washing facilities and sanitiser were provided and, venues were cleaned frequently. Many cities also secured supplies of masks and sanitiser gel. Sporting events have been called off or delayed, such as the Olympic Games in Tokyo (Japan), supposed to take place in the summer 2020. The cities of Milan (Italy) and Paris (France) were among the first ones to close all public parks to limit group outings and support the implementation of nation-wide measures related to the confinement.
Closing city cultural facilities. Cultural facilities such as museums, concert halls and cinemas have been shut down. Buenos Aires (Argentina) City Hall took such decisions via a decree suspending recreational, social and cultural activities for more than 200 people, for an initial period of 30 days, which was then extended. Across many cities in the world including in France, similar measures were taken to prohibit demonstrations, closed cinemas, theatres, and restaurants.
Closing schools and universities. This has involved rescheduling semesters, postponing examinations and upscaling the provision of online learning tools and educational applications free of charge. Fukuoka (Japan) provided educational movies for children who stayed at home due to the closure of public schools. Amongst other examples worldwide, the city of Moscow (Russian Federation) has set up a "Moscow Electronic School" so that pupils can follow their studies online.
After a few months of lockdown, most European cities developed and implemented plans to support measures to progressively exit the lockdown. Most plans relied on a gradual and territorial approach whereby, according to the contagion numbers, restrictions on social gatherings and restart of economic activities were eased. Decisions were taken at national and/or subnational level of governments depending on the institutional features of countries (federal, centralised).
In France, a map was developed and regularly updated to classify the départements (red, orange and green) on the basis of the spread of the disease and the pressure on hospitals. In places classified as “red”, where the virus was deemed to have spread more and where more patients were putting pressure on hospital systems, measures easing lockdown restrictions were implemented more cautiously than in those classified as “green”.
Austria gradually relaxed the restrictions in force against COVID-19 after Easter. After the reopening of small businesses on 14 April, other stores and restaurants followed in May. Trips continued to be limited to essential cases until the end of April. Schools remained closed until mid-May, with higher education continuing online courses until the end of the academic year. Restaurants, zoos and museums were allowed to re-open as of 15 May, and accommodation facilities, leisure facilities, swimming pools and tourist attractions as of 29 May. Sporting and cultural events, and large public gatherings in general, will not be authorised before July at the earliest.
As the closest point of contact between citizens and government and as places where denser groups of population are found and can gather, cities are implementing the following actions to maintain social distancing, while going back to “normal”:
Distributing safety equipment. Many town halls are distributing facemasks and other protective equipment in light of measures easing lockdown. In some countries, such as France or Spain, it has become obligatory to wear facemasks in public transportation. In April, the city of Madrid (Spain), in collaboration with the national government, started to distribute masks at important nodes of public transportation. The mayor of Paris (France) committed to distribute 2 million cloth masks to city dwellers starting from 11 May, channelled through borough town halls and pharmacies.
Ensuring social distancing in schools. Mounting evidence shows that children can be asymptomatic vectors for the spread of COVID-19. It is also challenging to ensure children effectively follow social distancing measures. Therefore, national and local governments are proceeding cautiously when reopening schools to ensure appropriate safety and hygiene measures. In Spain, schools were partially reopened from 26 May, but a full reopening is not expected until September, which is line with similar decision in Italy. On 15 April, Denmark became the first country in the Western world to reopen its elementary schools. To limit the spread of infections, parents are not allowed inside school premises, teachers cannot gather in the staff room, each child has their own desk which must remain two metres away from their nearest neighbour. The city of Paris announced that elementary schools only welcome the children of health, emergency and city workers as of 11 May, although some schools were already welcoming children of health and other “essential” workers during the lockdown period. On 14 May, the “priority audience” was enlarged to children of public transportation personnel, children with special needs and children in disadvantaged communities unable to follow courses online. On 22 June, all schools except high schools fully reopened. Schools for 15 to 18-year-olds (lycées) began reopening in green zones as part of phase two, but attendance is not compulsory.
In the first stage of the pandemic and during the confinement, many city governments had initially encouraged their staff to work from home before full teleworking regime was required for the country at large. Cities have put in place several measures, such as the following:
Applying teleworking or flexible working hours. One of the cities hit hardest and earliest by COVID-19, Milan (Italy) began encouraging residents to work from home from 24 February before the national confinement was put in place on 10 March. In San Jose (US), municipal employees were encouraged to telework to set an example for city residents. The Mayor of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) was among the first local leaders to encourage alternative work shift shifts; suggesting that the industry sector should start the first shift at 6 am, trade at 8 am, and the service sector at 10 am, in order to avoid overcrowding in transport. The municipal public sector adopted the same principle of scale and work at home. The Prime Minister of Japan requested that companies allow their employees to work from home as much as possible to reduce people-to-people contact by 70%, and ideally, by 80%. Teleworking, rotation shifts, flexible working hours or utilising online meetings are also mentioned as “new lifestyle” in the recommendations by the Expert Meeting of Japanese Government, published on 4 May.
Urging local businesses to support telework and flexitime. In addition to promoting telework among municipal staff, Tokyo Metropolitan Government (Japan) encouraged private companies to introduce flexible working hours and took specific measures to support SMEs and other companies in this shift by providing subsidies for the introduction of necessary equipment and software required for teleworking. In Braga (Portugal), the municipal agency for economic development InvestBraga organised a webinar to help small businesses foster digital skills, such as e-commerce, remote working, and videoconferences. It also offers free consultancy on digital topics.
Applying testing for enhancing safety at work. From the onset of the epidemic, the city of Moscow (Russian Federation) advised workplaces to take employees temperatures and prevent those with signs of illness (fever, cough or difficulty breathing) from coming to work and rather go home or search for medical treatment. Daegu Metropolitan City (Korea) launched 'drive-thru' COVID-19 testing facilities to cope with the fast rise in demand for tests. These facilities allow medical staff to test citizens directly in their car. The first "drive corona" was opened in Paris (France) in late March in the courtyard of the 17th arrondissement town hall, allowing healthcare professionals to be tested for COVID-19 without having to get out of their car on an appointment-based basis). Soliciting a test in one’s car is much quicker and safer for patients and healthcare workers than visiting a hospital or a health centre. The test takes about 10 minutes and the results, in the case of Daegu, are sent via text message within three days.
Reorganising and disinfecting transport services. Proximity of commuters in public transport can play a pivotal role in the spread of COVID-19. This risk is particularly high in cities, where commuters are often packed into busy trains or buses at peak times. In the first stage of the pandemic and in line with national directives to limit commuting, many cities and metropolitan regions progressively moved towards reduced services and local governments urged individuals to limit non-essential travel and put in place hygiene measures on public transport, such as disinfection. Public transport stations and vehicles in San Francisco (US) have sanitiser available and are more frequently cleaned. In Venice (Italy), canal boats went through extraordinary disinfection in the early stage of the pandemic. Naples (Italy) ensured suitable preventive measures to protect employees and users, by cleaning and disinfecting passenger compartments of trains and buses and visibly displaying to the user the appropriate disinfection certification. In Madrid (Spain), direct contacts are minimised by the fact that most trains (64%) are equipped with automatically opening doors. The city has also reorganised its bus routes based on the variations in demand, by reducing the lines serving the Universities or the express line to the airport, but maintaining nocturnal buses. EMT (service provider) also maintains a daily deep disinfection plan for their fleet. Bratislava (Slovak Republic) was one of the first European cities making it compulsory to wear a protective facemask when travelling on public transport. The transport authority has also banned entering or exiting through the front doors closest to the driver. Doors open automatically, so passengers do not need to push any buttons.
The pandemic has revolutionised the way people travel and work. In the short-term, the pandemic has forced companies and cities to adopt remote working policies when possible so that people could stay at home to stop the spread of the virus. After the easing of restrictions, employees may continue teleworking, when and where possible, to avoid large groupings of people in offices and in public transport, at least until a vaccine is discovered. The ILO has warned that without control measures to ensure that workplaces meet strict health and safety criteria, countries are at very high risk of a rebound in infection numbers.Some examples of measures taken in the workplace to mitigate the risk of a second wave of contagion include:
Continuing teleworking & staggering work hours. National, regional and local governments are urging companies to maintain telework whenever possible. In other cases, local governments are both implementing and recommending staggering work hours both to prevent crowded commutes, and gatherings in workplaces. The Ile-de-France region (France) is negotiating a charter with businesses, social partners, local governments and the public transportation sector with suggestions to stagger arrival and departure times in businesses. Employees would arrive in shifts between 5.30 am and 6.30 am, 6.30 am - 7.30 am, 7.30 am - 8.30 am, 8.30 am - 9.30 am and 9.30 am - 10.30 am. As of 21 June, Ile-de-France Mobilités (French Transport Union) renewed its call to favour teleworking and to “smooth out rush hours”, i.e. to let their employees arrive from 6.30 am until 10.30 am and in the afternoon to let them leave from 3.30 am until 7 am.
Making sure citizens can move safely. Some cities have started implementing transportation and mobility plans that encourage cycling or walking to minimise the risk of transportation for those non-essential workers returning physically to their place of work after confinement. New York (US) has committed to opening up 100 miles of streets for socially responsible recreation during the COVID-19 crisis. Paris (France) committed to roll out 50 km of emergency bike lanes during and after the lockdown, including a number of pop-up “corona cycleways”. Toronto (Canada) has created bigger sidewalks in a few places by blocking off sections of the curb lane so those on foot can spread out safely onto the road. Other efforts seek to minimise the spread of the virus in public transportation by increasing the frequency of trains and buses. In Chicago (US), the Department of Transportation is working with the city’s bike share partner, Divvy, to offer steeply discounted memberships during the months of the crisis. In Berlin (Germany), the districts of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain introduced pop-up bike lanes as a creative solution to ensure social distancing during essential travel while preventing an increase in single car use.
OECD metropolitan areas account for 60% of the total GDP in the OECD area, 59% of employment and 55% of the total OECD population. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, many cities have suspended economic and commercial activities, with the exception of essential activities such as supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, insurance and the postal service.
While national governments around the world announced measures to protect their economies from the enormous economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, city administrations also have a role to play in supporting small and medium enterprises, providing financing to help the less fortunate and empowering businesses to be in the strongest position possible to bounce back from the crisis, through:
Consulting services to SMEs: Since the end of March, Bilbao (Spain) has supported entrepreneurs, small retailers and SMEs through an urgent consultancy service organised by the City Council, which offers telephone and online assistance. The processing of all tax procedures has been postponed. Yokohama (Japan) established a special consulting office for small and medium sized enterprises as early as 30 January. In Seattle (US) several initiatives of digital service providers offer help to small businesses. Lisbon (Portugal) created a support team for micro, small and medium-sized companies to ensure information on all existing support reaches these companies, as well as consultancy, to mitigate the effects of the crisis and promote economic recovery. The team include specialists in the various areas. Paris (France) promotes weekly exchanges with professional unions, trade associations and economic partners.
Allocating funds: The Mayor of Milan (Italy) announced the establishment of a mutual aid fund to help those most in need and to support recovery of city activities. The fund, in addition to the allocation of EUR 3 million already approved by the City Council, is open to the economic participation of individual citizens, companies and associations. The fund raised EUR 800,000 on the first day (14 March, 2020). King County (US) has joined forces with philanthropic organisations to establish a relief fund, and created a donations connector page for people to request what they need and give what they can. Seattle (US) made available relief funds of large tech companies.
Providing tax breaks: Madrid (Spain) City Council approved EUR 63 million tax breaks on receipts from the Economic Activities Tax and the taxes for leisure, hospitality and commercial establishments, travel agencies and department stores, on the condition that they keep workers jobs until the end of year.The City of Montréal (Canada) offered emergency financial support and is taking measures to help businesses. Assistance measures include postponement of municipal taxes, emergency financial assistance and an automatic moratorium on capital and interest. Seattle (US) announced it was waiving financial penalties for businesses that pay their taxes late. Braga (Portugal) applied a total exemption of city taxes for occupation of public space, terraces and advertising for all local business closed to the public. InvestBraga, is giving assistance to the business community regarding social security requirements, technical guidance on business incentives and special assistance to tourism companies.
Providing Loans. New York City (US) put in place local support for SMEs, including zero-interest loans repayable over 15 to 20 years for firms with under 100 employees, for loans up to USD 75,000, conditional on demonstrating a 25% decrease in customer receipts. Tokyo (Japan) set up one-time payment for SMEs that are taking steps to prevent the further spread of the virus, such as suspending the use of their facilities. In addition, an emergency loan programme and free consulting services were put in place for SMEs affected by the crisis. In Buenos Aires (Argentina), the public bank, Banco Ciudad, launched a new loan program with the aim of providing funds to small and medium-sized enterprises for the payment of their payrolls. All loan schemes show a significant reduction in interest rates with a range of between 20% and 24% of the nominal annual rate.
Giving subsidies and support to VAT holders. Tokyo (Japan) provided subsidies for small and medium sized enterprises to support the costs of installing necessary equipment and software required to promote teleworking. Milan (Italy) implemented a programme called “Partita AttIVA”, to give economic support to Value Added Tax (VAT) holders to facilitate professional training and material (i.e. professional equipment, machinery, etc.) and investments for the development of their business (i.e. software).
Granting commercial rent and fiscal exemptions. Paris (France) developed schemes to back up and support economic agents such as freezing rents, road, terrace and other municipal taxes for closed business and NGOs. Lisbon (Portugal) gave a full exemption from rent payments for all commercial establishments in municipal spaces (municipal council or companies), which were closed, and all social, cultural, sporting and recreational institutions installed in municipal spaces, until 30 June, 2020. Porto (Portugal) implemented an exemption from rent payments by merchants, who hold a commercial lease agreement for municipal or local properties intended for storage. It has also implemented exceptional advance payments to cultural agents (up to a maximum limit of 75%), thus offering solid guarantees so that these agents can also resist and overcome the current difficult circumstances. Viano do Castelo (Portugal) provided an exemption from the payment of rents for companies located in the Praia Norte Business Park and the Business Incubator in April and May. On 26 March, the Reykjavík (Iceland) City Council unanimously agreed on an Emergency Plan of Action as an initial response to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan contains 13 measures, including deferral of fees, increased scope of flexibility for homes and businesses, and a reduction in real estate fees.
Supporting local production and distribution. Vila Nova de Famãlicao (Portugal) developed a marketplace for local commerce, in conjunction with economic entities and a program to encourage the consumption of local products. It also promoted local distribution and supply chains in partnership with cooperatives, companies, distributors, restaurants, supermarket trade. It has created a helpline to answer questions about national measures for companies and for the local employment exchange. Paris (France) helped connect independent businesses and logistic entities to deliver goods, and supports the agricultural sector and next-door distribution circuits by allowing local farmer associations (AMAPs) to keep delivering and maintaining some open markets. Sydney (Australia) published a draft of the Central Sydney Planning Strategy to contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery and future livelihoods, by, among other elements, favouring local employment.
The pandemic has seen countries rolling out ambitious recovery packages to protect their economy and people, which require cooperation and collaboration across levels of government. Furthermore, national decision-makers have had to make use of their legal prerogatives to ensure that local authorities have the right amount of flexibility in their working processes to act efficiently. For example:
In the United Kingdom strong coordination between cities, local authorities and national government was crucial in the fight against the pandemic, and a set of funding schemes was established to help small businesses. In order to get these funds to businesses as quickly as possible, they were channelled through local authorities. GBP 13 billion (over EUR 15 billion) were made available as grants and not as loans.
In Spain, territorial policy was reformed to allow local authorities to hold virtual meetings and to allow municipalities to be able to use their budgetary surpluses specifically with COVID-19. The autonomy given to municipalities to have their own responses, in complement also to the innovation developed by civil society and NGOs. The Spanish Federation of Cities and Provinces (FEMP) played an important role in the management of this crisis and gathered regularly with the government to draft agreements for the post-pandemic, including economic ones.
In Turkey, the national government announced direct financial aid for regions. Local agencies proposed measures and provided financial support to SMEs and other relevant institutions. Pandemic boards were established in each city to monitor the measures and take additional ones if necessary, ensuring the continuity of local public services.
To varying degrees, OECD countries have allocated increasingly complex and resource-intensive competences to lower levels of government. As such, cities are suppliers of basic services, including drinking water supply, sewage collection, wastewater treatment, and solid waste management. Under the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2020, a “New Leipzig Charta” will be adopted on pandemics and crisis management, with a stronger focus on resilience, digitisation and the common good (i.e. equal access, availability and good design of services of general interest and critical infrastructures).
In many parts of the world, cities are making sure people remain connected to basic services, such as water supply, even in situations where supply is not continuative for structural and contingent reasons. Many cities and utilities have agreed to suspend utility shutoffs for residents who are unable to afford their bills, as local leaders scramble to tackle the complex public health threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially important considering the main and most important preventative measure to combat the spread of the virus is handwashing and overall general hygiene. In Detroit (US), water services are to be temporarily restored to thousands of households previously disconnected due to unpaid bills amid a public health outcry. Seven states in the US – Wisconsin, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Louisiana – have mandated a halt to shutoffs. The local government of Alora (Spain) has eliminated water charges during the next quarter for those establishments that remain closed to the public because of the confinement established by the State. In France, many cities are implementing measures to make sure people have running water in a time of heightened need for hygiene. Porto (Portugal) has provided a partial exemption on water, sanitation and urban waste tariffs between 1 April and 30 June for non-domestic customers whose are totally or partially closed due to the Government Decree, and/or whose activities experienced an abrupt or sharp drop in at least 40% of turnover. Lima (Peru) also seeks to guarantee the supply of drinking water to the most vulnerable areas of the city, beginning with the delivery of ten cisterns of drinking water. In Braga (Portugal), water and sanitation fees have been dropped for all customers.
Cities also seek to continue to guarantee solid waste collection, but not necessarily separated for specific types of waste. Public health agencies, such as in the United Kingdom, recommend that all waste that has been in contact with any self-isolated individual should be double-bagged and tied to prevent the spread of COVID-19. On-demand waste collection (bulky waste, garden waste, etc.) has been suspended until further notice in the cities of Luxembourg and Newark (US). In Poland, the five largest municipal solid waste managing organisations appealed to the government to warn about the lack of regulations in waste management sector in the case of a pandemic. The city of Kingston (Canada) cancelled its Household Hazardous Waste service. In Lima (Peru), garbage collection has been guaranteed in the city centre and the municipality is providing aid to other local governments. AGERE, the municipal water and waste management company of Braga (Portugal), provided small businesses with an exemption of the entire fixed component of the urban waste tariff and a reduction of 25% for all commercial clients.
Public procurement processes play a key role in the provision of a number of services to citizens where local governments have core competencies. The COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on current and future contracts of local governments and thus, on the provision of services. It has also created new safety, sanitation, and digital needs that local governments have to meet. Indeed, while local governments are not always in charge of providing healthcare, the provision of other services requires the procurement of specific equipment to ensure the safety of people providing those services. For instance, the provision of security services during the epidemic requires specific equipment for the police including masks and protective gloves. The city of San Francisco (US) announced on 23 March the procurement of one million N-95 personal protective masks from the state, which have been put to use by front line workers. Cities like Rome (Italy) are sanitising public spaces and streets with seven tanker trucks of the ‘’Giardini’’ Service being used and the procurement of appropriate products. Madrid (Spain) procured 10,000 tests for its ‘essential’ officials as of 25 March.
Many countries have issued decrees or other legal documents to make public procurement rules more flexible for all contracting authorities, as the COVID-19 crisis required immediate responses from countries to ensure the continuity of public services. Depending on the administrative organisation of each country, it could be national framework or subnational/ local government’s frameworks. On 30 March, Mexico City (Mexico) issued a decree for extraordinary actions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic providing more flexible rules in public procurement processes, including the possibility for direct award. In France, an order confers on local governments the powers that deliberative assemblies can usually delegate to them. These powers include decisions regarding public procurement activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted the need to enhance coordination between public entities and different levels of government. As in many countries, in Italy and the United States, local, regional and national levels of governments are competing for the procurement for personal protective equipment, including masks, which led to significant increase of prices.
Specific measures have been adopted to support suppliers of public entities, including local governments. These include, advanced payments, no application of penalties, reduced payment deadlines:
Copenhagen (Denmark) is paying invoices to suppliers in advance to improve company liquidity, shortening payment from 30 days to 2 weeks.
The municipality of Milan (Italy) has simplified the payment of public procurement contracts for companies working in the construction sectors. This includes providing advanced payments to companies and reducing the payment deadline.
Barcelona (Spain) issued a mayoral decree on disruptions to municipal public procurement, which ensures the continuity of public contracts, the liquidity of providers, particularly SMEs, and strives to maintain jobs.
In Paris (France), the city government decided to rely on a network of thirty social companies to produce two million reusable masks based on technical specifications published by AFNOR, the national organisation for standardisation.
In recognising that the COVID-19 epidemic is likely to hit vulnerable communities the hardest, cities have taken measures to mitigate the impact on fragile members of society. Cities are particularly well positioned to play this role, as they are closer to citizens and can better understand local needs. Vulnerable groups include those who may be physically and economically more exposed to the pandemic. The elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions and those without shelter or homes to isolate in, are more prone to contracting the illness and developing serious symptoms. City administrations are working to protect those who are most disadvantaged with targeted social policies to help the elderly, the sick and the homeless and other categories of vulnerable groups, such as migrant people.
The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the conditions of homeless people and called for specific measures, consisting in offering shelters, services and basic goods:
In New York City (US), at least 460 people experiencing homelessness have tested positive and 27 have died due to COVID-19 in the city. The Mayor announced that 6,000 individuals would be relocated to hotel rooms.
In California (US), with an estimated 150,000 homeless people, the plan is to make hotel rooms available for more than 50,000 people.
In Toronto (Canada), at least 135 people experiencing homelessness have contracted the virus. The city has created an “isolation centre” so that people without homes can safely stay away from others while waiting for test results and has also booked hotel rooms that people who typically use the shelter system can stay in if they need to self-isolate for 14 days.
Montreal (Canada) announced measures to support the homeless such as improving shelter services, chemical toilets, sanitary products, food assistance and continuing winter measures. The City is working with several partners to find spaces that could become homeless shelters.
In Bilbao (Spain) spaces were organised for care of the homeless, migrants or unaccompanied minors. Municipal sport halls were fitted with beds to provide social accommodation, if necessary.
Oakland (US) expanded sanitation services for unsheltered residents.
Paris (France) mapped fragile and isolated populations and opened, jointly with the State and NGOs, 14 gymnasiums for homeless people. Through the “Fabrique de la Solidarité”, a call for volunteers, was circulated for volunteers wishing to help homeless people. In less than a week, more than 1,000 Parisians participated in social patrols, in preparation and distribution of meal packs. Local aid networks, via www.jemengage.paris.fr platform, have been created enabling Parisians in need of help to connect with those willing to assist them in their building or neighbourhood, while abiding with lockdown and recommended health measures.
Bratislava (Slovakia) launched the construction of a quarantine town with the support of professional, medical and social staff that will serve its population of 4,000 homeless people for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
The United Kingdom government provided funds to cities and local authorities to accommodate homeless people in hotels. Over 90% of rough sleepers were taken care of through this initiative. Bristol City Council and other partners from across different sectors in the city have set up a new group looking at homelessness and move on accommodation as the city recovers. In the response to COVID-19, a significant number of homeless people were offered hotel accommodation to ensure they remain safe. While providing such responses, many local governments faced range of obstacles: overcrowding in shelters and relocation centres, lack of funds, maintaining staff and volunteer safety and filling supply shortages. Homeless populations are overall difficult to track and test to prevent transmission. As such, officials in many cities fear that current figures of homeless in need for help are painting an incomplete picture. On the other hand, the pandemic can provide the opportunity for social policies to have a positive and more permanent impact on homelessness.
There is a high risk that the pandemic exacerbates current vulnerabilities of the world's refugees and internally displaced people. Travel bans, closed borders and living conditions in camps all amplify the risks to migrants. This pandemic is also on track to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of some of the 272 million international migrants worldwide. People displaced internally and across borders are particularly at risk. In addition, the majority of the world's 25.9 million refugees and 41.3 million internally displaced persons are in developing countries. In Singapore, more than 20% of the population are foreign workers, with a vast majority that have work permits and work in low-wage jobs. Many of these migrants come from Bangladesh and India to work in construction, shipping, manufacturing and domestic service sectors. The breakdown of nationalities among the confirmed cases shows that workers from these countries have been disproportionately affected.
Migrants living in camps at the doorstep of Europe or the US face the possibility of a devastating virus outbreak given their proximity to highly affected countries and their often cramped living conditions, coupled with already stretched healthcare services. The virus is already endangering the lives of many in countries that host a large number of displaced persons, such as Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or Bangladesh. In these cases, social isolation within resettlement camps are not enforceable. More generally, the lockdown of some countries is impacting on state services, slowing down both migration processing and assistance provided to asylum seekers. Some essential migrant support services are simply being closed until further notice due to the prohibition of social gatherings.
Targeted measures in cities directed specifically to migrants and refugees include:
Securing access to public services. Rabat (Morocco) aims to carry out educational follow-up with migrant minors. Milan’s Social Policies Directorate (Italy) produced a report on irregular migrants during COVID-19 emergency detailing what services they continue to offer. New York City (US) issues ID cards for all its residents, irrespective of their migration status, to secure access to diverse services (an initiative that existed prior to the COVID-19 crisis). Dusseldorf (Germany) rehoused several refugees and is now using a refugee centre as a quarantine station.
Offering housing. San Francisco’s (US) COVID-19 Data Tracker displays information updated on a daily basis about the City’s ongoing efforts to provide temporary alternative housing for priority vulnerable populations and frontline workers. A total of 2,741 beds were made available in private hotels rooms as well other types of facilities, among which more than half were directed to homeless people. In London (UK), about 300 rooms located in two Intercontinental hotels were transformed into shelters for vulnerable people already known to homelessness charities as part of an initial trial. The rooms were booked at a discounted rate for 12 weeks. In order to avoid beneficiaries using public transport, the mayor’s team worked with cab drivers who volunteered to transport people between support services. Similarly, the city of Stuttgart (Germany) created over 300 places for accommodation and care as a precautionary measure. The rented buildings are spread over several city districts. Among the first users were refugees and migrants. Between 8,000 and 10,000 foreign agricultural workers reside in the Portuguese city of Odemira. The mayor prepared a prevention plan for quarantine that takes into account the need to prevent transmission within this population. This includes making public infrastructure available with sanitation services and being able to feed up to 500 migrants working in agriculture.
Limiting the economic impact of the pandemic: New York City (US) announced a partnership with Open Society Foundations to establish the New York City COVID-19 Immigrant Emergency Relief programme, to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, are included in citywide COVID-19 response and relief efforts. Across the world, several localities have created funds to help low-income families who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 pay rent or other expenses. The funds created by Austin and Washington DC in the United States specifically prioritise undocumented families.
On average in the OECD, nearly two-thirds of migrants settle in mostly metropolitan, densely populated regions. This crisis has also brought into sharp relief just how much OECD economies depend on migrants. While countries and cities are on lockdown, migrants are at the frontline of core activities. In London, caregivers with a migrant background represent 50% of NHS nurses and 59% of the social workers. In New York, more than half of all frontline workers are foreign-born, with this share reaching 70% in building cleaning services. Evidence from a recent OECD report shows that attitudes towards migrants tend to be more positive in places where unemployment of native-people is lower. However, the post-COVID-19 period will likely be marked by an increase in unemployment, notably in cities. Therefore, mayors could seize the opportunity of ensuring that they will be able to rely on a continuous positive perception to maintain measures supporting migrants over time. Another lesson from OECD work on local integration of migrants is the importance and the difficulty of communicating on this subject for policy-makers. Mayors could carry out surveys and collect evidence on the role of migrants and refugees can in addressing the pandemic, invest in communication campaigns and make visible the importance of jobs mainly occupied by migrants or people with migrant (i.e. health services, home care, cashiers, carriers). This approach, based on being aware of the benefits of migrants’ work on the overall society, could help fight segregation and enhance social cohesion at the local level.
Elderly people are considered to be amongst the most vulnerable to the pandemic. Cities have implemented measures to protect them, offer medical support and adapt commercial activities to their needs.
San Jose (US) mapped individuals aged 50+ with chronic conditions, who needed to be sheltered or isolated, as well as expanded shelter capacity and kept usually seasonal homeless shelters open.
Vienna (Austria) converted an exhibition hall into a large-scale care room. The room is on offer for people with mild COVID-19 symptoms who do not need to go to hospital, but who have difficulty caring for themselves at home. The care centre provides food and basic medical care.
Bilbao (Spain) collaborated with citizens to protect vulnerable members of the community, especially the elderly. Citizens were asked to contact Municipal Social Services if they identify local situations of loneliness, difficulties in meeting basic needs or lack of family or social support. Additional spaces have been organised for care of the homeless, migrants or unaccompanied minors. Municipal sport halls are fitted with beds to provide social accommodation, if necessary. The City Council has made around 27,000 phone calls to people over 65 year old to check their state of health and mood, their situation (loneliness, level of autonomy) and to enquire if they need any service from the municipality.
Yokohama (Japan), distributed half a million-stored surgical masks to the elderly and child welfare institutions.
Like the rest of France, Toulouse forbade all visits to nursing homes. Restaurants and cafeterias for the elderly were closed, but a delivery service was enacted to provide meals directly to the homes of elderly residents. In many French municipalities (often of small size), such as Angerville in the region Ile de France, municipal agents called citizens above 65 year-old three times a week in case they needed basic support.
Bratislava (Slovak Republic) established a dedicated free of charge Senior Citizens phone line to serve the most vulnerable with delivering food, medication or providing social contact.
Lima (Peru) developed an online voluntary register for elderly citizens, as well as a telephone line to provide information regarding COVID-19 prevention measures and medical and psychological counselling.
In Reykjavík (Iceland), many shops opened one hour early, reserving that time only for the elderly and others at increased risk.
Viana do Castelo (Portugal) created a volunteer’s pool to ensure the distribution of meals, medicines and personal protective equipment and a support line, provided by psychologists, for the Elderly and Loneliness.
In Spain, vulnerable people who needed to go outside accompanied by a caregiver and those over 70 years of age were permitted to do so between 10 am and 12 am and between 7 pm and 8 pm.
The Home Care Institution in Ljubljana (Slovenia) offered the elderly and their families free therapeutic/consultative support via telephone that would contribute to the increased independence of the elderly in their home environment. Occupational therapists were available for counselling free of charge via telephone from Monday to Friday, between 8 am and 3 pm.
The municipality of Sultanbeyli (Turkey) carried out activities for people aged over 65, such as delivering them hot meals twice a day, disinfecting their homes and providing basic needs such as cleaning, market and pharmacy shopping.
Buenos Aires (Argentina) created a voluntary citizen-based support network for the elderly population (+70) “Mayores Cuidados” with the objective to i) provide support to elderly people via phone through daily calls, and ii) help them with shopping (i.e. food or medicine) or taking pets for a walk.
The public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic carries both health and economic implications. People who work in certain industries, such as restaurants, hospitality, retail, and other service industries, are particularly at risk for loss of income. Those who maintain jobs amid the COVID-19 outbreak, such as health care workers, grocery store workers, and delivery drivers, are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 as they have higher exposure to other individuals. Many of these workers are low-wage workers and will have limited ability to absorb income declines or afford health care costs. Research suggests that those in lower economic strata are also more likely to be infected because of the higher rates of chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. The pandemic thus exposes them to a double economic and health threat.
Measures such as postponing rental payments are allowing cities to provide some relief. Examples of such initiatives are hereinafter summarised:
Chicago (US) introduced a new ordinance to bar employer retaliation against or firing of workers that comply with the stay home order during the COVID-19 crisis.
New York City (US) temporarily declared it illegal to drastically increase prices, which helps ensure access for those with lower incomes.
New Orleans (US) received a State grant of USD 10.4 million for affordable housing in response to the COVID-19 crisis to go toward nine affordable rental housing projects that might have lost funding due to the crisis. The city provided rental and utility assistance to impacted low-income households, and implemented a Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program which will provide payments to make up the difference between the amount a household can afford to pay for housing and the rent standard.
San Francisco (US) declared a moratorium on residential evictions related to financial impacts caused by COVID-19 to prevent any resident from being evicted due to a loss of income from business closure, loss of hours or wages, layoffs, or out-of-pocket medical costs caused by COVID-19.
The City Council of Sintra (Portugal) suspended all rents to be paid by inhabitants of social housing and non-profit associations (IPSS’s, Sports and Cultural Associations) until 30 June 2020. Together, these measures will protect approximately 1,700 families and 70 associations.
On 9 April, the City of Paris (France) provided families paying the lowest canteen rates with an exceptional aid of EUR 50 to 150 per month (and an extra EUR 50 for the second and third child only), benefitting 28,579 Parisian families, i.e. 52,000 children.
The City of Lisbon (Portugal) has suspended rent payments in all municipal houses until 30 June, 2020. This measure covers 24,000 families and 70,000 people in total. After that date, the amount that was not charged can be paid within 18 months, without interest or penalties. At any time, households may request a reassessment of the value of the rent, due to a decrease in household income, unemployment or a drop in income. Lisbon also reinforced the social emergency fund aimed at families and social institutions, as well as the purchase of all goods, services and equipment needed in this emergency situation, in the amount of EUR 25 million.
Porto (Portugal) implemented flexibility mechanisms to reassess the value of supported rents. A direct line was created to reassess the value of income support based on the adjusted income of families, due to dismissal, lay-off, reduced activity of independent professionals or other situation of reduced income. This request immediately suspends the payment of rent until the amount is adjusted to the verified income. The city has also allowed the possibility for staggered payment of rent in social housing until 31 December, 2020 for all families that are unable to pay the monthly rent.
In Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (Turkey), USD 3.5 million were raised in a very short time period to help more than 172,000 households that were unable to pay their water and gas bills in the city. Via a dedicated website, the municipality matched people who could not afford to pay their bills with those willing to cover the cost of these bills in solidarity during the pandemic. Istanbul also opened a kitchen, which served 3 meals for 5,000 people. In addition to increased social support, nearly 36,000 free shopping cards and 560,000 food packages were distributed to the most vulnerable as of June 2020.
Vila Nova de Famãlicao (Portugal) supported the payment of rents to households that have lost income, has implemented reductions in water tariffs and exempted institutions from tariffs. It is also providing daily lunch meals, on a take-away basis, for students in need.
Corlu (Turkey) served hot meals twice a day for families with no income. After the meals were cooked in a free food bank, they were delivered to the households by teams in accordance with hygiene and health rules.
Ljubljana (Slovenia) organised home food delivery (by city bus drivers) for children from at risk families and elderly citizens. The Ljubljana Health Centre ensured psychosocial support via phone or email for anyone potentially struggling with the current epidemiological situation. Ljubljana offered empty and disinfected hotel accommodation to staff from the University Medical Centre who commute from other towns, so they do not need to drive home every day.
Alongside civil society organizations and volunteers, Lima (Peru) coordinated the delivery of food and essential goods to the most vulnerable groups.
Ghent (Belgium) extended, from 1 May onwards, financial support to all residents, regardless of their income status. The additional financial aid is granted after a social and financial investigation.
In many cities, confinement measures led to increase the episodes of domestic violence, against which local governments are taking measures. In Spain, in the first two weeks of April alone there was a 47% increase in calls to Spain’s domestic violence helpline compared to the same period last year. The number of women contacting support services, which have been designated as essential by the government, by email or on social media is said to have increased by as much as 700%. In Brazil, there has been an estimated rise in 40-50% of domestic violence cases.
Several cities have started specific campaigns against such domestic violence. For example, Madrid (Spain) has launched a campaign called 'Tú no te quedes en casa’ and ‘NoEstásSola’, to help victims during confinement. In Paris (France), to rescue victims of domestic violence, jointly with State services, women are allowed to break confinement to file a complaint at the police, and the emergency number 17 has been made available to report abuses 24/7. France has also funded hotel rooms for victims if their homes are not safe. In many cities of Spain, those who would like to report violence at home discreetly can visit a pharmacy and give the code word “Mask 19””. The pharmacist will then alert the authorities. Some cities are making hotels and other shelters available to victims of domestic violence such as Düsseldorf (Germany), which has extended its accommodation facilities, shelters and protection services for women and children in need. In Istanbul (Turkey), some buildings have been restructured in order to provide shelter service for women and close cooperation has been established with women's NGOs to give priority to women in emergency situations.Lima (Peru) has spread awareness and strengthened the available telephone line for legal and psychological counsel against violence, particularly towards the protection of women and children during the mandatory isolation time.
The confinement period has also exacerbated gender disparities in other ways. Due to their higher occupation in service, lower wage, part-time and precarious jobs, women will likely suffer disproportionately from the economic fallout. According to OECD data, 84% of jobs held by women in OECD countries were in the service sector, most of which have ceased to operate due to confinement measures. Women are also more likely to contract the virus, as they are on the frontlines of essential service work: cashiers, pharmacists, social workers, cleaners, assistants to the elderly and healthcare workers all over the world are more likely to be women. In the US, one out of every three jobs held by women is considered essential during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, those that stay or work from home, are also confronted to disproportionate amounts of unpaid domestic and care work, given school closures and elderly caring needs. In OECD countries, women spend, on average, twice as much time on unpaid work than men. Many cities have acknowledged the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls and have implemented local measures to mitigate the impact. For example, the municipality of Beşiktaş (Turkey) has launched a social media campaign titled “Equality Starts from Home” encouraging both parents to share housework and childcare responsibilities equally. The city of Paris (France) has allowed children of healthcare and emergency responders to continue to go to school, to ease childcare burdens at a time when society needs them most. As France eases restrictions, priority will be given in schools to children of public transportation as well as those of lower ages.
In times of crisis, trust in institutions and their transparency in communicating with the public is even more essential than usual. In particular, health emergencies spark anxiety and uncertainty in communities and may lead to or exacerbate mental health issues. Periods of confinement and self-isolation also risk triggering feelings of loneliness and depression.
In the face of COVID-19, several Mayors and local administrations have developed innovative ways to inform, reassure and communicate with the public. They have also developed a wide range of digital tools to cope with daily needs and health issues. Through public information programmes, websites, posters, advertisements and social media, cities are tapping into a vast array of outreach possibilities. Local leaders are calling on all residents to play their part in limiting the spread of the disease and relentlessly relay simple essential measures, such as hand washing for 20 seconds and coughing into an elbow, which can significantly slow infection rates. They are also sharing real time information on the stage of the pandemics in their cities through online portables, digital platforms or open data. In many cases, Mayors in person lead the charge to reassure their residents with a range of creative options from engaging with public figures or cartoonists, to using social media to address live questions.
One-stop databases. Tokyo (Japan) created a one-stop database on the real-time COVID-19 situation including the number of infected people, their status, characteristics (age, gender), number of inquiries to the call centre, number of people using subways, etc. The city also provided the website’s source code as open-data, so that other municipalities and institutions can use the data and replicate similar webpages. The autonomous Province of Trento (Italy) developed an institutional application as a one-stop shop for all guidelines, insights, reference sites, updates, decrees and ordinances, collected only from certified and reliable sources. The City of Vancouver (Canada) launched an online dashboard to inform people of the city’s emergency response to the spread of COVID-19. It provides a snapshot view of all city services and gives information on a range of topics, including: compliance education (how the city is making sure everyone complies by the rules and guidelines); travel (how vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic has evolved); childcare for essential workers; support to homeless people; food security programmes; and community contributions.
Call centres. Tokyo (Japan) also established a new call centre to respond to a range of inquiries from foreign nationals on 17 April, which is available in 14 languages including English, Chinese and others. The region of Piedmont (Italy) has provided a toll-free number to receive citizens' reports with flu symptoms or respiratory problems. Düsseldorf (Germany) has opened a 24/7 information line on COVID-19 and included a live-ticker on its homepage counting infections. The city of Dijon (France) has put in place through OnDijon a phone number that citizens can call for all types of questions that are not health-related.
Information and volunteering campaigns. San Francisco (US) ensured that multi-lingual posters provided by public health officials with tips about protecting against COVID-19 were displayed in public spaces, ensuring as wide a community outreach as possible. In Sydney (Australia), public health information was distributed at the City’s community centres, libraries and childcare centres. Bristol (UK) repurposed its 2019 campaign #WeAreBristol to challenge people to overcome their differences and focus on what they have in common. A new partnership - Can Do Bristol - involving the city council and a community foundation offers a place for people who would like to donate time or money to sign up, and for people who need help to find help in their local area. The website showcases all volunteering opportunities in Bristol and is being used by community groups to promote activities where help is most needed. The city of Athens (Greece) created a municipal radio station for continuous repetition of information and preventative health messages, not only in Greek but also in eight other languages.
Outreach campaigns. With the help of associations and cultural mediators, the Municipality of Ravenna (Italy) created videos with information about COVID-19 in Arabic, Wolof, Bambara, Pashto, French and English. The municipality also translated guidance on protecting against the virus into 14 languages. Montreal (Canada) developed an outreach campaign to disseminate essential information about access to housing, food aid, rights and government assistance and public health instructions to ethnocultural communities and immigrants. Recorded messages explaining public health instructions in several languages were broadcast on ethnic community radio stations. The City of Paris (France) and the French Department of Seine-Saint-Denis (located in Greater Paris), launched, in partnership with local associations, an inclusive and multilingual communication campaign targeting the communities who do not easily have access to official sources of information such as low-income households, the homeless, asylum seekers or the allophone communities. The goal of this campaign is to relay simple essential measures to limit the spread of the pandemic in 25 different languages.
Messages from Mayors: In Düsseldorf (Germany) the Mayor addressed the population in a video message while calling on citizens to protect people at risk, particularly the sick and the elderly. In Bratislava (Slovak Republic), the Mayor commissioned a famous local cartoonist to visually represent how residents can keep safe. The Mayor also regularly hosts live Facebook sessions to answer questions from citizens, and prepared a video with actors and public figures, motivating citizens to be responsible. The Mayor of Paris (France) regularly provided messaging through Instagram posts and live videos to update citizens on new measures throughout the city, such as the expansion of bicycle lanes and the distribution of masks in phases as the lockdown eases. The Mayor of Bristol (UK) addressed the city via video, providing a calming presence, giving factual updates and reassuring residents. In Lima (Peru), the first Metropolitan Council Session was held through video conference with real time voting.
Websites: The Edinburgh (UK) municipal website relays the testing process to residents who may have access questions.The city of Cape Town (South Africa) website provides detailed fact sheets on the virus. Yokohama (Japan) has strengthened the distribution of the information related to COVID-19 to the foreigners staying in the city, through its affiliated foundation, “Yokohama Association for International Communication and Exchanges (YOKE)”. YOKE has created a website, gathering relevant information, especially in English and Chinese (there is a large Chinatown in Yokohama.) The government in Mexico City (Mexico) publishes the number of cases and deaths in real time and by borough on a daily basis. While providing reliable information, against of the many ‘fake news’, the website also indicates which public services operates and where to find help in case of need.
Digital app and platforms:
Health mobile apps: Buenos Aires (Argentina) created a digital platform, which provides recommendations on how to best avoid contagion. The city of Sao Paulo (Brazil) is digitally monitoring confirmed or suspected cases through telemedicine and launched an application for self-isolated patients. In Paris (France), l’APHP (Public assistance from Paris hospitals) is using Covidom, a digital application to monitor self-isolated patients. The OLVG hospitals in Amsterdam (Netherlands) developed a mobile app called Corona check where people can send their symptoms through their mobile or tablet, which are then assessed by a medical team that can then contact the user if necessary. Originally available only in the region of Amsterdam, the app is now available throughout the country thanks to partnerships with other hospitals and another existing health app. The City of Vienna (Austria) has commissioned Atos, to develop and implement an Epidemic Management System (EMS) to support the control of the spread of infectious diseases. With the COVID-19 crisis, EpiSYS, a digital platform, which stores and manages all patient data and data related to the virus - including tracking and tracing patient incident reports, in real-time, has been made available to other municipalities and provinces in Austria as well.
Business mobile apps: Tel Aviv-Yafo (Israel) updated its platforms to enable timely updating of residents with all relevant information, while also providing the Municipality with a credible, up-to-the-minute picture of the status of the city’s residents and businesses. Valparaiso (Chile) developed a platform that provides the geo-tracking of all local shops, service suppliers and essential product stores to help residents identify those open in their neighbourhood or those providing home delivery services. Another objective of the platform is to limit the circulation of people in the city.The city of Ghent (Belgium) created a platform to bundle on one website all online trading initiatives in March 2020. Regensburg (Germany) is intensifying the use of an existing regional portal for gift seekers and supporters of Regensburg traders to provide support during the COVID-19 crisis. The platform allows users to access delivery, take-away and online voucher offers from different services.
Social mobile apps: Oslo (Norway) organises weekly digital meetings with minority-based NGOs to understand the needs and actions to succeed in the implementation of safety-measures and regulations on social distancing. The municipality of Toulouse (France) launched an online platform enabling assistance to vulnerable groups during the lockdown period through a matching system between volunteers and people in need of help. In Amsterdam (Netherlands), the platform Wij Amsterdam, launched in March 2020, was built through open source software to support citizens throughout the COVID-19 crisis and make their initiatives visible, connected online and mapped in the city of Amsterdam.
Phone Alerts Philadelphia and New York City (US) made COVID-19 Text Alerts available for residents who sign up to this service with a special number. The city of Nice (France) has been using drones with cameras and loudspeakers to remind citizens of the COVID-19 confinement rules.
Online educational activities. The city of Bamberg (Germany) and its surrounding district built an online platform gathering information on educational opportunities. The City of Vienna (Austria) now offers its free Förderung 2.0 (“Support 2.0”) tutoring initiative for 10-14 year-old with additional support in German, Mathematics and English for lower secondary students. In New York City (United States), the Department of Education has loaned out 300,000 tablets with internet access to students in need in order to support distance learning. The first students to receive devices were the 13,000 public school students in homeless shelters. Tablets were provided based on priority criteria, starting with students with no access to internet or a computer.
Online cultural activities. Bergamo (Italy) is encouraging its citizens to experience online visits through ten museums while staying at home since March 2020. There are virtual tours and online collections available. In April, Paris (France) launched the initiative “Que faire à la Maison” (What to do at home), which provides options for virtual and online experiences on sports, expositions, concerts and even for children. In New Orleans (US), the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy has launched an “Embrace the Culture” series online, with topics ranging from cooking demonstrations to children’s readings.
Many cities are making sure that citizens are provided with real time information, while the restrictions are being gradually released. This for example concerns information of commercial activities open to the public, updated health and transport services. Some examples include the following:
Vaasa Central Hospital in Vaasa (Finland) is commencing trials for Ketju, a Finnish app designed to help healthcare professionals to identify people who have been exposed to COVID-19. Using Bluetooth technology, the app anonymously records encounters between its voluntary users to rapidly and accurately identify infection chains, helping to manage the workload of healthcare staff and offer citizens a concrete way to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. The application is an important part of preparing for the future stages of the epidemic, after easing of national lockdown restrictions have gradually begun in Finland starting on 15 April.
The Bilbao (Spain) City Council is a member of BILBAO DENDAK, a public-private association for the promotion of commercial and tourist activity in Bilbao. Bilbao Dendak has drawn up an interactive map with the shops that are open and those that offer home delivery service. This map is updated according to lockdown measures that are being gradually lifted in Spain starting from 4 May.
EMT, Madrid’s (Spain) public bus operator intensively uses its broadcast channels to inform all users about the conditions of use of its services and the obligation to reduce mobility. Furthermore, EMT uses all its digital channels (web, app, social networks) to inform users and citizens in real time of any updates in mobility during the easing of lockdown restrictions.
In New York City (US), the Department of Transportation (DOT) encouraged the use of contactless payments through smartphones to reduce contacts and exposure risk for the public and the workforce. Two different apps are available to residents: ParkNYC (launched in 2016, was used for more than 22 million transactions in 2019) and ParkMobile, a nationwide app.
Barcelona Council initiated a project of economic recovery based on seven strategic objectives that aimed for 1) new models for resilient city, 2) strengthen business, 3) promote employment, 4) promote local consumption as a priority, 5) relaunch international reputation, 6) open Barcelona to investments, 6) develop transformative solutions with a metropolitan vision.
In order to achieve these objectives, a series of measures will be carried out. In particular, financial mechanisms will be activated to guarantee stability during the recovery period. The training of both workers and companies will be increased, at the same time the social focus will be maintained to minimize the impact on vulnerable groups. New events will be articulated that stimulate life in the city and reactivate tourism and consumption. New tools will be established that allow the creation of synergies between the business and socioeconomic fabric of the city, in order to promote organic growth. Specific development plans will be created.
The activation strategy is planned to implement in four phases: shock plan (0-3 months), resilience (3-6 months), recovery (6-12 months) and reinvention (12 months).
The districts of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain introduced pop-up bike lanes as a creative solution to ensure social distancing during essential travel while preventing an increase in single car use.
Once the peak of the pandemic was overcome and the de-escalation phase began, but still during the health emergency, on 8 May 2020, the Bilbao City Council approved a Social, Economic and Cultural Emergency Plan, BILBAO AURRERA, which aims, with an investment of EUR 15 million and an array of more than 50 measures, to alleviate, revive and recover from the effects that the COVID-19 health crisis has had on the PEOPLE and COMPANIES of the City.
This ambitious Plan was drawn up by the City Council’s Cabinet. It has been completed and agreed with the rest of the political groups in the City Council in coordination with other institutions, as well as with the directly affected sectors and professional areas, with whom several meetings have been held, such as commerce, the hotel industry, culture, etc.
This plan is grouped into three specific areas:
This is an exceptional and temporary set of measures to be implemented during 2020, the period considered to be most affected. All the measures have been coordinated and complemented with those implemented by other administrations.
At the economic level, the Plan will focus on the sectors where the greatest impact is expected, such as small local businesses, hotels and restaurants, tourism and the cultural and creative industries.
This whole range of actions has been drawn up under the cross-cutting principles of flexibility and capacity to adapt, the search for the greatest impact of resources, a balance between investment and expenditure in accordance with people’s needs but not losing the strength of strategic investments for the city, increasing both internal and external digitalisation, strengthening collaboration and participation with other institutions and cities (public-public and public-private) and maintaining the percentage of subsidies to Development Cooperation for 2020.
The aim is, in parallel, to continue working on other medium and long-term strategic lines and approaches that will help to overcome the current situation.
Bogota adjusted its Development Plan to face the different crisis brought by COVID-19. The new version of the plan seeks to preserve employment levels and supports SMEs, develop digital trade, and create new competences for the labour market, telework and green jobs. To complement the Development Plan, the city government will conduct urban and real estate projects for the generation of employment and promotion of economic activities; maintenance of environmental sustainability; develop a technological conversion fund; promote urban and periurban agriculture; and maintenance of environmental sustainability. Particular focus will be on fostering the entrepreneurship and employability of women.The city announced an additional 35 km of cycleways, adding to the 550 km of cycleways already secured by an ambitious and proactive policy since the 1970s.
Boston established the “Reopen Boston Fund”, to support small businesses (fewer than 15 employees) with a majority of employees working in close proximity to clients and each other, in sectors such as: arts and entertainment; Childcare; Event spaces or bars; Fitness; Food businesses; Personal care, including but not limited to salons and barber shops, spas, and beauty services; Retail.
Boston is working to address the digital divide by providing high school students with a free "cell phone/hotspot" through the 1Million Project. Boston public schools are also providing a Chromebook to students in need of a device.
Bristol has started to develop a One City Economic Recovery strategy even before the COVID-19 crisis. This strategy is seeking to reduce poverty and inequality, increase the city’s resilience and environmental sustainability, and enhance the economic and social well-being of every community. In light of economic impact of pandemic crisis, the city has elaborated specific recommendations for business and communities, especially addressing ethnic minorities. According to the report, targeted programme of support for all BAME (Black, Asian, minority ethnic communities) sectors should be provided through financial assistance. Other recommendations include providing access to grants, wage subsidy and micro-loans, for those small BAME led charities and voluntary organisations, start-ups and new businesses that fall out of the current eligibility criteria for public sector loans and social investment. In addition, it proposes to invest in IT and Tech support for the BAME sector to re-orientate to online modes of service delivery. Recommendations suggest mechanisms to develop sector diversity, good practice in sustainability, and inter-dependence in the process of economic recovery.
Chicagoland Chamber convened a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force to establish guiding principles and specific actions that the business community can take to safely reopen their businesses and get people back to work. The steps which will be taken by Chamber and business community in several fields.
Schools and childcare centres:
Investing in infrastructure:
Dublin started to develop a “living” framework of mobility proposals together with the National Transport Authority at the beginning of May. This plan proposes to provide additional space for pedestrian areas and safe cycling facilities, as well as to implement various bus route changes required to enable cycling and walking measures while maintaining a strong public transport network.
The City of Hoboken has elaborated COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Strategy, which permits businesses to expand outdoor space on the sidewalk, create shared outdoor spaces as strEATERIES and Parklets, and creates a framework for businesses to operate further into the street during scheduled road closures.
Houston has established the Greater Houston Business Recovery Center to build a business-led recovery initiative, which will provide guidance on policy and financing tied to recovery programs. As a first step in this program, the Partnership aims to inform its members and the broader Houston business community about federal programs and opportunities designed to help companies weather and recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
The city is committing to the full digitalisation of municipal services, aiming to go from the current 85% of digitalised citizen services to 100%. This also includes the digitalisation of building and landscaping practices, which aims to simplify the authorisation process. The city is also committed to facilitate remote and agile working, by ensuring the provision of appropriate services and amenities, and safe environments. To ensure universal access to the necessary internet connection for telework, called “right to the network”, the city is mapping the provision and quality of fiber optic connection to identify areas that need to be better serviced
The plan also aims to reorient away from mass tourism by blocking entry of touristic buses to the city centre, in which there used to be 360 daily before confinement. In the long term, buses will have to stop at the limits of the city. The plan also intends to reinvest the centre with local uses for residents and businesses, and will therefore block any new licenses for hotels and restaurants.
As of 1 June, the European Metropolis of Lille launches a EUR 66.1 million unprecedented recovery plan to help economic players in difficulty and encourage their recovery. The recovery plan is based on nine entirely new measures, with the emphasis on companies and projects related to energy transition.
Loans refundable at 0% interest rate “Covid Relance” from EUR 5,000 to 30,000 refundable over 3 to 5 years for companies or associations with fewer than 10 employees. New scheme co-financed by the European Metropolis of Lille, the Hauts-de-France Region and the Banque des Territoires The recovery plan for the local economy also includes 17 operational actions and a principle of contractualisation with the municipalities.
Metropolis of Lille is taking measures designed to encourage the recovery of businesses in the sector by directly benefiting metropolitan areas. According to the plan, 3,000 additional renovations of social housing will be undertaken over 3 years (2020/2022) for a total aid package of EUR 9 million. A massive support plan for the renovation of condominiums is being implemented with the thermal renovation of 600 housing units per year for 3 years (EUR 3.6 million).It also has a specific component for run-down condominiums, including the financing of safety work for 600 homes per year for 3 years (EUR 6 million). In addition, an investment of EUR 12 million, on an equal footing with the State, to accelerate the renovation of the Cité Scientifique's student residences, improve the quality of life for students and enhance the attractiveness of the Lille campus (EUR 12 million over 5 years). 600 housing units are involved in the Bachelard and Boucher student residences. The Metropolis is also implementing a scheme for controlled access to the property: EUR 5,000 on average per household, subject to income conditions, and up to 700 housing units, in the form of bank loan subsidies for reduced VAT programmes carried by social landlords, and in affordable programmes through private promotion (EUR 4 million).
To promote Lille business tourism and the dynamics of events in the metropolitan area, EUR 2.4 million will be devoted by the Metropolis to this objective, in particular by mobilising the Hello Lille attractiveness agency.
Liverpool developed a GBP1.4 billion Economic Recovery Plan (LERP), which focuses on four key themes – Innovation, Housing, Employment and Creativity. In particular, LERP includes development of more than 200 new modular homes and community centres, and renovation of 4,000 homes for vulnerable households in the most deprived neighbourhoods, which are also most at risk from COVID-19. The plan is estimated to create 25,600 jobs and provide an additional 12,000 construction jobs. The recovery plan includes investing into a new cruise terminal, a major housing development next to the International Festival Gardens site, the next phase of the city’s health innovation campus at Paddington Village as well as a Science and Tech Innovation Centre as part of the Liverpool John Moores University development at Copperas Hill in the city’s Knowledge Quarter (KQ Liverpool).
As of 29 May, the city council of Madrid decided to lower taxes to promote the recovery of commerce, leisure, hospitality and culture. The reduction will lead to a drop of more than EUR 66 million in business taxes. Moreover, by 2020, the requirement to maintain employment is eliminated in order to maintain all economic activity and accelerate recovery, although those companies that maintain it will see the bonus in the Economic Activities Tax (IAE) extended to 2021.
The city opened a new car park reserved entirely for shared vehicles in the end of May. The new space is located 25 meters from the avenue Capital of Spain, next to one of the exits of the Feria de Madrid metro station. This pilot project tries to promote sustainable mobility and promote inter-modality in this business area, where 10,000 inbound trips are recorded every day by private car .The city will also add 45 km of new bus lanes, which represents 30% of the current network, to support residents who want to use public transport.
The city has approved a recovery plan for cultural institutions and activities, “The Madrid Applauds Plan” (Plan Aplaude Madrid) endowed with EUR 7.5 million. Spaces dedicated to contemporary art, performance and cultural exchange will be eligible for a bi-annual programming grants, and the City Council has extended a 25% reduction of the Real Estate Tax and the Economic Activities Tax for 2020. EUR 2.2 million will be given over to renovating two emblematic spaces in Madrid, the Circo Price Theater and, after almost four decades of waiting, the Fernán Gómez De la Villa Cultural Center.
On 7 July, the city council approved a recovery package of more than 300 measures focused on economy and employment, housing and social services, sustainable mobility and urban planning, and culture.
Medellín is preparing to revive its economy after the coronavirus pandemic, while seeking a 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, with a focus on transport. In particular, the city plans to expand bike lanes by almost 50% within three years, to 145 kilometres, and more than double the number of interconnected public transport lines, including overland trains, trams and cable car lines by 2030. Furthermore, the city is working to provide 50,000 electric bikes that residents can rent at a low cost – and it is committed to electrify all public transport by the end of the decade.
Mexico City has announced an economic recovery plan after the COVID-19 pandemic. The city government will invest USD 1 billion to create around 1 million new jobs in the construction sector. The investment will cover public infrastructure and social housing. The plan is expected to contribute to the redevelopment of 13 urban corridors through housing projects, mostly housing improvement projects and new social housing in areas with good transport connection. For the city government the investment in infrastructure and social housing is essential in the recovery strategy due to the multiplier effect and the indirect jobs in may create. The strategy also use resources to mobility projects that had already been announced before the crisis such as a new BRT line and two ‘cablebuses’ (cableways) lines.
Maringa created a task force on 29 June to develop the Economic and Social Development Recovery Plan, based on a partnership between the city government and Sebrae (Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service). The plan aims to provide job creation, new investments, capacity building, reform of laws, benefits and credit access, among other initiatives to boost the economy. The plan is based on citizens’ engagement and also involves, academia, civil society and private sector.
Middlesbrough became the first city to launch a city-wide rental e-scooter pilot programme to lay the groundwork for more systematic implementation across the UK in an effort to discourage urban residents from crowding public transport or returning to personal polluting vehicles.
Milan launched the Adaptation strategy which sets comprehensive actions to reduce travel demand (e.g. promoting smart and remote work models); improve and diversify mobility options (e.g. promoting bicycles, electric scooters, shared vehicles); increase public transport safety (e.g. limiting the number of people in public buses and subways, reducing crowds at bus stops and train stations with safety distancing); clear sidewalks; integrate public transport with other mobility systems; enhance automation of transport and parking tickets and passes; and to invest in short-term parking spaces (e.g. for delivery of essential goods for healthcare and emergency services). The Strategy aims for supporting social innovation, and start-ups to integrate business and social objectives while creating community cohesion. It suggests to stimulate the recovery of the construction sector by launching widespread maintenance and redevelopment projects on existing real estate assets, both public and private, alongside energy-saving initiatives, environmental redevelopment and improved home comfort.
Nice will support the economic recovery after the corona pandemic with a pact for employment. Mayor Christian Estrosi announced to allocate an additional budget of EUR 3.5 million, aimed at the most vulnerable entrepreneurs and public authorities, as well as strategic SMEs in the region. The programme is targeting the economic sectors most strongly impacted, such as tourism and trade, but also industry and innovation in order to strengthen the economic attractiveness.
Mayor of Paris announced that 50 kilometres (30 miles) of lanes normally used by cars will be reserved for bicycles. Among them are avenue de la porte d'Orléans, avenue du Général-Leclerc (on the southern section), the Étoile tunnel and Porte Maillot. In addition, 30 streets will be designated pedestrian-only, in particular around schools, to avoid large groups of people gathering on sidewalks. The Rue de Rivoli, the main east-west thoroughfare through the heart of the French capital, is only for bikes as of 11 May. Only some vehicles are authorised to circulate on this street such as buses, cabs and delivery trucks, or even emergency vehicles and those for disabled people.
Paris developed a plan to support businesses, cultural actors and associations. The plan commits the city to the following engagements for the next 5 years: 9 out of 10 service providers of the city will be SMEs, EUR 6 million will be invested in businesses, artisans, cultural enterprises, and young innovative firms, EUR 5 million will support the tourism sector, and EUR 4 million will support actors of the social and solidarity-based economy.
Reykjavik announced an action package for tourism including a marketing campaign for the city as a destination once the COVID-19 crisis improves.
In terms of smart city measures, the Education, Culture and Sports Department of the city council introduced a digital platform to constitute a virtual class for schoolchildren. Riga’s City Development Department is also designating one day a week as a remote working day, organising webinars on city planning documents rather than in person meetings.
Rotterdam has developed a mobility plan in coordination with its public transport company RET, and four companies providing bikes, electric bikes and scooters to enable a seamless alternative transport offer. It is accompanied by a service on the application of the RET, which helps users find the most convenient and fastest way to complete their journey.
The city is also investing in the support of schoolchildren, and the homeless population. A EUR 2.4 million investment will help provide 6,000 schoolchildren from disadvantaged families and areas with extra classes and courses in the summer to prevent them from falling behind. A EUR 20 million package for homeless services support the provision of independent housing and better living conditions, and counselling, a move following the provision of 150 homeless shelter adapted to social distancing as an immediate response to the crisis.
San Francisco has convened the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force in order to design a strategy to guide the city in its efforts to recover economically. The task force will be organised around three primary areas: i) jobs and business support (namely for SMEs); ii) vulnerable populations; iii) economic development. Over 30+ Task Force members conducted research through interviews, focus groups, town halls, and surveys, ~1,000 people’s voice to prepare final recommendations on overall economic recovery that will be presented in August.
Seattle will permanently close 20 miles to most vehicle traffic. This decision marks the permanent continuation of the “Stay Healthy Streets” initiative, which was launched in April as a temporary measure to provide urban residents with more space for social distancing and exercise during the lockdown.
The Korean New Deal is focused on expanding digital infrastructure and services, such as data, artificial intelligence (AI), and cybersecurity, and promoting the green economy sector for climate change response. Seoul has committed important investments in public healthcare, new municipal facilities that include a public medical school, as well as a research centre on infectious diseases and an epidemiological lab.
In particular, Seoul will continue to pioneer smart green mobility options by implementing driverless vehicles, delivery of goods via robots and smart parking lots. These measures come in addition to fast tracking a bike lane system with express way, with an objective of attaining a modal share of 15% for bikes in 2030.
In addition to the city’s existing ambitious solar plan that aims to place solar panels on all municipal buildings and a million homes between 2018 and 2022 (estimated to create 4,500 jobs and to date, the city has installed 98 MW of solar PV systems on municipal assets, more than 13,125 households have received solar panels, and emissions of the air pollutant PM2.5 have been cut by 8.7 tonnes), in March Seoul became the first Korean city to announce a subsidy plan – KRW 1 billion has been allocated for 2020 – for Building Integrated Photovoltaic in new commercial and residential constructions.
Swansea Bay City announced a GBP 60 million marine energy project in June that will help tackle climate change while reviving Pembrokeshire’s economy in the wake of Covid-19. Pembroke Dock Marine is led by the private sector, with support from Pembrokeshire County Council. The project is expected to generate more than 1,800 jobs in the next 15 years. The project is made up of four elements including a 90km2 Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone, delivered by Wave Hub Limited that will enable the deployment of future energy generating technologies as well as Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence – a technology, innovation and research centre delivered by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.
Tokyo has developed a recovery roadmap including guidelines for businesses to prevent the spread of viruses, accompanied by subsidies for small and medium-sized firms to invest in appropriate facilities and equipment. In parallel, and to support the hotel industry, it set up a program matching hotels providing teleworking facilities with employees who cannot telework at home, including a subsidy program to enhance wheelchair accessibility
After the lift of the Declaration of a State of Emergency over the coronavirus on 25 May, Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) is continuing teleworking and flexible working hours among its staff every day and is promoting private companies to introduce teleworking or flexible working hours. TMG is taking specific measures to support SMEs and other companies, such as providing subsidies for introduction of necessary equipment and software required for teleworking.
TMG and industry groups have formulated guidelines on proper prevention measures for reopening businesses after the lift of the TMG’s State of Emergency Measures. Also, TMG supports them by providing subsidies for implementing proper measures and dispatching advisers. Taxpayers in Tokyo can apply a deferral of payment when they are facing difficulty paying taxes due to the impacts of the virus. Regarding the water sewage charges, TMG allows customers to defer the payment for a certain period when they request the postponement by the reason of payment difficulties.
TMG is going to accelerate its efforts toward digital transformation such as promotion of online learning, telemedicine, telecommuting, and digitalization of public services. TMG s promoting Smart School Project, which enables all public school children and students in Tokyo to study online. It lends devices needed for online education to those who don’t have access to technology and Internet at home.
The city of Toronto has established the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild (TORR) to coordinate engagement and research, develop the City’s recovery strategies and recommend actions to rebuild and reimagine the way the City delivers programs and services. Residents, businesses and communities will play a significant role in successfully restoring communities and social and economic infrastructure. The City will continue to engage with institutions, the community and partners to get input that will help shape the City’s actions around recovery and rebuild. The city has asked for citizen views on how Toronto can recover and rebuild by taking a survey available until 30 June 30, 2020.
Vienna seeks to help young people who were one of those severely affected by the corona crisis. It invests EUR 17 million to help out the more than 16,000 young people currently without a job. The package includes intra-company vocational training, qualification passports, assistance for catching up the missed time and offers to enter into professions in health, care and IT, dedicated to the young generation.
In addition, the city has announced to build 7 new municipal housing sites with 1,000 apartments in the coming years. The new buildings will be spread all over Vienna and they created a high-quality and affordable offer in attractive residential environments. The housing projects aim to provide future districts with pedestrian zones, green spaces, as well as sports and culture facilities within walking distance. The start of construction is planned for 2022.
Vilnius City Municipality has drawn up a plan of aid measures titled “Vilnius’ Plan 4×3”, which focuses on four main areas (“directions”): aid for an individual, aid for business, aid for culture and embracement of opportunities. A considerable focus is put on culture – Vilnius plans to allocate around EUR 1 million to shore up the cultural sector in the near future.
Vilnius city municipality is increasing aid to business by placing more orders to be fulfilled by companies, accelerating the renovation of multi-storey residential buildings, promoting local tourism, removal of bureaucracy in terms of projects, which have slowed down. Business support is promised in other forms as well – by allowing businesses to make use of the available municipality’s communication channels and by developing information packages for companies to help speed up their return to active operation.
Among the propositions for the Government, Vilnius’ plan also contains such specific steps as appointment of the head of the Public Procurement Office or approval of the big projects, such as the multifunctional complex or the general plan of the capital city.
Financial support is directed to cultural and creative industries, such as partial reimbursement of cancelled events, a one-off support to stage arts, exemption from charges, engagement of educational institutions in cultural educational events, strengthening of festivals by involving local authors and performers.
Vilnius is planning to exploit remote work opportunities even further and encourage small business to digitize.
The City is aiming to reform health sector management: strengthen management skills and organization of the health sector, bringing together municipal outpatient clinics and making management more efficient.
Yokoama is increasing subsidies to the owners of the rental apartments for vulnerable residents, so that they can reduce the rent for the tenants whose income had severely decreased by the situation with COVID-19.
The city also created a website “Takeout and Delivery Yokohama”, to introduce and support the restaurants, which are offering meal takeaways or deliveries. The city asked the owners to register their restaurants, and the residents can search their neighbourhood on the map.
The city created a municipal radio station for continuous reproduction of information and prevention spots against COVID-19, not only in Greek but also in other eight languages. The city made sure that there is continuous disinfection and cleaning of streets, pavements, pedestrian walkways, squares and public hospitals of the city. The city suspended operation of all open sport and cultural facilities, museums, libraries, theatres and creative learning centers of the City of Athens Culture, Sports and Youth Organization (OPANDA). The city operates a municipal hotline for those in need for food and medication and unable to move outside their house; as well as for psychological and first aid support of the citizens by psychologists, social workers, doctors and nurses from the municipal health centers. There are exceptional economic relief measures for enterprises in Athens affected by this unprecedented health crisis, especially for those that have had to cease their operation due to COVID-19 containment measures it is foreseen: exemption from payment of State fees (sanitation and street lighting fees as well as tax on electric - powered premises); exemption from payment of public space occupancy fees, exemption from payment of duties on the purchase of temporary residence in short-stay accommodation; and exemption from payment of fees on the gross revenues of commercial premises.
Following national directives, Berlin closed schools and cancelled events in state theatres, operas and concert halls. Gatherings with more than two participants were prohibited in Germany.
Bilbao is collaborating with citizens to protect vulnerable members of the community, especially the elderly. Citizens are asked to identify local situations of loneliness, difficulties in meeting basic needs or lack of family or social support. If they detect such a case amongst their neighbours, they are required to contact Municipal Social Services. Additional spaces were also organised for care of the homeless, migrants or unaccompanied minors. Municipal sport halls were being fitted with beds to provide social accommodation, if necessary. Specific measures aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, small retailers and SMEs were launched through an urgent consultancy service organised by the City Council, which offered telephone and online assistance. The processing of all tax procedures was postponed. The mayor of Bilbao activated the Municipal Emergency Plan on 13 March. It included measures such as: citizen service by telephone and online channels, online form for starting procedures, the Basic Social Services offer telephone attention, citizen collaboration to detect solitude situations, specific cleaning and sanitation services, adaptation of public transport, interruption in tax and fee deadlines, modifications in the administrative procedures, adequacy of municipal markets, and a housing contingency plan.
The community of Innovative Shops of Bilbao launched the #Adoptauncomercio (#Adoptashop) initiative, through which shops are putting on sale vouchers to be acquired by all those people who want to support them to survive in these difficult moments. BILBAO DENDAK, the public-private association (of which Bilbao City Council is a member) for the promotion of commercial and tourist activity in Bilbao, has drawn up an interactive map with the shops that are open and those that offer home delivery service. Bilbao City Council launched the program #gazteklubaetxean to offer to young people online leisure alternatives in which they can participate and enjoy themselves from home. The Municipal Libraries of Bilbao were closed to the public during the state of alarm, nevertheless their activity was maintained and their digital services are available to the public. The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, of which the Bilbao City Council is a patron, has launched a virtual initiative in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture through which a compendium of the museum's high-definition images can be enjoyed online.
In Bogota all public or private events exceeding 1,000 people were postponed. Furthermore, organisations were asked to facilitate working from home, establishing a shift system to minimise contact, reduce rush hour traffic and shift education to online learning. The city created a public-private partnership between health service providers to purchase facemasks, gel, alcohol and other supplies to prevent shortages. The city announced an additional 35km for cyclists, adding to the 550 km already secured by an ambitious and proactive policy since the 1970s.
The City of Bonn’s volunteer agency and several local initiatives teamed up to help the most vulnerable risk groups. With several hotlines, they are matching citizens in need with those wanting to provide volunteer services in everyday life. To assist families in this difficult situation, Bonn’s local Education and Family Centre has opened an additional hotline.
As Bonn is an international city, the City Hall intensified its communication to respond to the needs of international and non-German-speaking citizens. To keep all citizens informed, the City regularly updated its English website and uses an English twitter account. The City is also proving additional translation into other languages.
The city created a public hot line to attend questions related to COVID-19 and created a solution for psychological support to citizens in partnership with the School of Health Sciences of University of Minho. The municipality supported the University of Minho to the creation of a rear centre in the University Residence for people who are in nursery homes and similar facilities affected by cases of COVID-19.
The city created a free hot line called +60 to support senior citizens in isolation or in a vulnerable situation. This line is to help seniors in tasks like buy goods in supermarket or urgent medicines.
In relation to the problems in several residential homes for the elderly, Braga was the first city in the country to assume the payment of tests to COVID-19 for all professionals and elderly people in those centres. This operation is ongoing, having already covered several institutions. The city is receiving several donations, particularly with masks and other protective material. Now it is donating this material to nursing homes to protect the professionals and its residences.
The Civil Protection of the Municipality and the Fire Department of Braga were taking actions to disinfect nursery homes to prevent the spread of the virus all across the city. The city also offered to Volunteer Firefighters of Braga an extraordinary grant for the current year, in addition to protection material.
Since the initial phase of the crisis, the government suspended classes in the public school system in the Federal District. The Social Development and Education secretariats signed a partnership to allocate goods and food from closed schools to the social institutions at the Federal District. Cinemas and theatres remain closed. The government installed alcohol gel points in the main bus station. The local trade, industry and services unit established an online chat service. The Tax Rate on the Circulation of Goods and Services (ICMS) for alcohol in gel and other COVID-19 prevention products was reduced.
Bratislava made it compulsory to wear a protective facemask when travelling on public transport. The transport authority has also banned entering or exiting through the front doors that are closest to the driver. Doors open automatically, so passengers do not need to push any buttons.
Bratislava banned all visitors from elderly homes and closed schools. The city also setup a dedicated free of charge Senior phone line to serve the most vulnerable with delivering food, medication or providing social contact. Since schools closed, the city has worked with child psychologists to provide a free parent phone line to discuss any issues regarding home schooling or anxiety parents and children might face.
The Mayor commissioned a famous local cartoonist to draw basic principles to keep residents healthy. He also regularly hosted Facebook live sessions to answer questions from citizens, and prepared a video with actors and public figures, motivating citizens to be responsible.
The mayor was keeping residents up to date through video messaging. Bristol city has a COVID-19 response team – not just council but city wide input, for example, from police. About 18 work streams, a council communications cell, and senior leadership met twice a week and are the central decision-making body.
The city’s One City approach allows for cross-city action and decision-making.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published data on the amount of money distributed to SMEs by every local authority in England as part of the two grant schemes launched to help businesses deal with COVID-19. As of 20 April, Bristol had distributed over GBP 53.3 million (approx. 61%) of its Small Business Grants Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Funds. Businesses with multiple outlets can receive more than one grant and may receive grants from separate local authorities, if their different outlets are in different local authority areas. Over 6,100 small business grant applications have been received and over 4,600 have been issued with a value of almost GBP 58.9 million to support businesses in Bristol.. Further communications aremade out to these businesses to ensure they can benefit.
At the initial stage of COVID-19 spread, the City Hall suspended recreational, social and cultural activities for more than 200 people. School activities were suspended, but school remained open to ensure that the most vulnerable children can access food. Buenos Aires is coordinating measures and permanent talks with the National Government. The city created a digital platform to provide recommendations to avoid contagion. Just some stations of the whole metro network remained open in order to prioritise people who need to travel longer distances. Suggestions of moving on foot or by bicycle for the shortest distances were also made.
Connected Educational Community is a school help desk through which parents can connect and present ideas, make inquiries, and see the contents to accompany their children in the learning process with our virtual educational platform. The help desk is accessible through a free toll telephone number or through the online chat of the City.
Mayores Cuidados is a collaborative network of City volunteers to help and take care of the elderly. It includes emotional containment by phone calls to help them carry on with the isolation and help with food and medicine purchases as well as walking their pets.
In the city, pedestrian spaces in streets and avenues were expanded and sidewalks with high pedestrian flow were intervened to encourage neighbourhood businesses and guarantee social and compulsory distance in the current reopening phase. Partial and total cuts were made as well as demarcations on the roadway and speed reduction in different axes of the City.
The City implemented online medical consultations in all the health centers and hospitals. In these consultations, the professional contacts their patients by phone or video call provided they have internet access and a computer or cell phone.
In addition, a special chat bot was created to help to protect citizens against COVID-19. WhatsApp chatbot that indicates if a person has symptoms of the disease after a series of questions. If so, Public Health standards are activated, referring suspicious cases to the operators of the Emergency Medical Care System. These operators are connected through the same chat in order to expedite health care.
Only essential workers could use public passenger transport in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires. The City promotes and encourages mobility on foot, by bicycle and on skateboard to make short trips or as a complement to other means of transport. The train services were provided through a special scheme, prioritizing the stations with the highest influx of users.
Lifting of restrictions allows the reopening of over 72% shops of this sector. These businesses are serving according to the last ID number by odd or even day of the client, and employers have to guarantee hygiene and distance measures. Key commercial streets remain closed for shops.
Professionals from the Family Development Directorate attend those who need help with issues related to discomforts arising from living together at home during quarantine. The system asks a series of questions to learn more about the family and once answered, it contacts the specialized professional in the same chat conversation. If the neighbour requires it or the professional believes that the situation warrants it, the consultation can be continued by telephone.
The City of Cambridge implemented a partnership with local businesses to feed the homeless. With many shelter programmes short staffed and no longer having the capacity to prepare meals on site, the city contracted local restaurants to provide bag or boxed meals for lunch and dinner. These meals are then delivered to shelters and programmes that have indicated a strong need for meals.
The Cape Department of Health has surveillance systems in place to rapidly identify and detect any cases in the province. This includes the screening and monitoring of anyone with a relevant travel history and close contacts with the affected areas.
The City is implementing municipal construction projects at an accelerated pace, which are estimated to create between 50 and 100 new jobs in the city administration. This is facilitated by lifting of restrictions on capital expenditures on public procurement.
Water services were temporarily restored to thousands of households in Detroit disconnected due to unpaid bills amid the public health outcry (in 2014, shortly after filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, the city had launched a massive shutoff programme). In its first year, 31,000 households had their water shut off]
Daegu Metropolitan City
Daegu Metropolitan City launched 'drive-thru' COVID-19 testing facilities to cope with the fast rise in demand for tests. These facilities allow medical staff to test citizens directly in their car. The test is much quicker and safer for patients than visiting a hospital or a health centre. It takes about 10 minutes, and results are sent via text message within three days.
The City of Düsseldorf opened a 24/7 information line on Corona Virus including a live-ticker on its homepage. Mayor Geisel addressed the population in a video message to explain how Düsseldorf intends to proceed to fight the COVID-19 crisis. A dedicated diagnostic centre was set up in a central location in the city and aims to relieve the burden on general practices. A refugee centre was vacated to be used as a quarantine station for potential patients who might not be able to self-isolate in their own homes or might be stranded in Düsseldorf. The City also offered social services to help people at risk with essential shopping and other errands.
Düsseldorf established a telephone counselling service for those in need of support while staying at home. Düsseldorf extended its accommodation facilities, shelters and protection services for women and children in need. Düsseldorf’s cultural institutions offer lectures, classes and infotainment during social distancing. Düsseldorf has issued a general ruling to regulate the dispensed quality of goods to counteract panic buying. The City of Düsseldorf has launched an online portal with collected information on local support services and businesses. One can find information on which shops and restaurants offer delivery service; also, information on culture, sports, e-learning, tips for families etc. is to be found there. Düsseldorf expanded its COVID-19 testing capacities (up to 800 tests per day) and the COVID-19 information line was optimised: the staff has received extensive training, and a phone bot to deal with the public's COVID-19 queries has been installed.
The local Council is working closely with higher levels of government to monitor and respond to the national situation, and provide local advice on personal hygiene. The municipal website relays the testing process. The Scottish Government Department for Health and Social Care confirms each case. Health Protection Scotland co-ordinates the response, information and advice on COVID-19. Local and national NHS services test individuals, and provide advice through calls to NHS 111.
As part of its economic support programme, the city of Frankfurt is promoting local shops with a campaign. Posters, print and online ads are being used to advertise local businesses and restaurants, or to encourage citizens to take advantage of the numerous delivery options. The aim is to get citizens and guests to support the local businesses.
The municipal website provides information on peak travel times and online services to reduce in-person communication. Fukuoka is promoting flexible working hours both in the city government and in private companies. Congestion is communicated by the city website. Schools have been provided with educational movie contents on home learning for children. The city is also providing low-interest loans and consulting services for SMEs that are affected by the spread of COVID-19.
The City of Ghent took extra support measures in favour of the local economy (such as deferral of payments), and also facilitates for example the matching between requests for support and supportive volunteers, through the specially launched volunteer platform “Ghent Helps”.
The City of Ghent provides extra funding for 21 initiatives that provide shelter and food for the homeless.
Additionally, a solidarity fund “Solidary Ghent” was set up by a collective of civil society and non-governmental organisations to protect vulnerable residents against COVID-19 by i.e. financing the purchase of medical care, delivering healthy food, etc.
A budget was reserved so that all schools could provide tailored assistance during the remaining part of the school year, and during the summer holidays in preparation for the next school year.
During the past Easter holidays, the city also provided and coordinated childcare for about 600 children living in a vulnerable situation at 51 different locations. In addition, the City together with Digipolis Ghent (the city’s IT-support body), made laptops and tablets available free of charge for vulnerable resident pupils. The city also provided about 1,500 games and reading packages to this target group for free.
The City of Ghent took a series of concrete measures to assist Ghent citizens who are struggling financially. The Ghent Taskforce Relaunch decided on a package of measures on 3 April, 2020 to assist Ghent residents in financial difficulties. These social measures include crisis support for families with a living wage, additional financial aid, regardless of income statute and support to pay the rent and buy material and equipment.
Turkey Metropolitan Municipality established the Instanbul Aid and Coordination Center to manage the COVID-19 process in the City. An online platform was established to bring together the ones who would like to provide and receive support.
In the Municipality, regular disinfection processes are carried out in places such as city squares, main arteries, places of worship, sites, parks, beaches, courthouse, public institutions, banks, etc. Additionally, all transportation vehicles, all bus/metro stations and stops are disinfected, hand disinfectants have been placed in the required places, masks are distributed to the passengers and thermal cameras are provided. Buses for transporting all healthcare professionals that require assistance are provided.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality reduced the capacity for buses and metro buses to below 50%. Wearing facemasks was made mandatory for using public transport. Free mask distribution on public transportation lines was offered. Istanbul shares online cultural events and home exercise contents with Istanbulites through social media channels.
As of June of 2020, nearly 36,000 free shopping cards and 560,000 food packages have been distributed to the most vulnerable ones in addition to increased social supports. The Cash Support Card number raised nearly 75,000 families. 3,5 million USD raised in very short time period to help more than 172,000 households which are incapable of paying their water and gas bills in the city,
As of June 2020, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality supports a total of 860,000 families. 75,000 of families received cash support and 115,000 families were supported by Istanbul card (shopping card).
In Municipality, USD 3.5 million has been raised in very short time period to help more than 172,000 households which are incapable of paying their water and gas bills in the city, particularly due to the COVID-19. Via the specially dedicated website, municipality matches people who cannot afford to pay their bills with those willing to cover the cost of these bills out of an act of solidarity in times of the pandemic.
Some buildings have been restructured in order to provide shelter service for women and close cooperation has been established with women's NGOs to give priority to women in emergency situations.
The Municipality decided not to take rent from the tenants of the IMM properties for 3 months and to extend their contracts for 3 months.
Farmers of Istanbul are supported with various aid programs for farmers such as free seedlings, fertilizers, pesticides and opportunity to get consulting from agricultural engineers in the planting and harvesting seasons. To support agri-food secrtor, milk supply shifted to Istanbul local farmers. Istanbul intend to distribute the goods produced by local farmers to the families in need of the city.
30 tons of animal food have been given to stray animals by municipal police and Directorate of Veterinarian Services.
King Country built additional temporary care facilities and is repurposing buildings for isolation and quarantine. The county joined forces with philanthropic organisations to establish a relief fund, and created a donations connector page for people to request what they need and give what they can.
The U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) was dispatched early on in the crisis to investigate the outbreak. Schools and other places of gathering were closed. COVID-19 public health recommendations are provided in several languages. The local government is providing real time updates on the numbers of cases.
On 17 March, Nevada’s governor ordered a month-long closure of casinos and other non-essential businesses such as bars, movie theatres and gyms, and for restaurants to shutter their dining rooms and only offer takeout or delivery orders. Employees who can work from home have been advised to do so; ill employees must stay home. Businesses are required to protect employees who must work in-person in accordance with social distancing guidance appropriate for that workplace. Elderly people, those with health conditions and other high-risk populations are advised to stay at home and avoid unnecessary contact. Local governments are required to enforce 50% or less capacity of any public gathering space presently allowed by fire marshals.
Lisbon closed municipal museums, galleries, libraries and theatres. The municipality suspended all sports activities, closed swimming pools and leisure grounds. Schools were closed and activities complementary to education, such as study visits and outings promoted by the municipality or using the municipality's transport service were cancelled. Visits to nursing homes were suspended across the country.
Lima closed city parks until further notice, as well as cancelling concerts, sporting and cultural events. Municipal Solidarity Hospitals have been added to the Ministry of Health network of institutions available for COVID-19 testing. Local police works alongside the national force, helping to oversee public spaces.
The City created a Work Team for Disaster Risk Management of the Municipality of Lima for the design and development of prevention and response measures to COVID–19. It coordinates with all other District Municipalities to implement integrated strategies. The first Metropolitan Council Session was held through video conference with real time voting.
Garbage collection in the city centre, sanitation and deep cleaning of public transport are ensured. Lima suspended toll payment in high transit main roads in the city of Lima for vehicles employed for activities associated with the mitigation of the COVID – 19 virus. The Municipality began actions to strengthen and guarantee the supply of drinking water to the most vulnerable areas of the city, beginning with the delivery of ten cisterns of drinking water.
Lima implemented an online voluntary register for elderly citizens, as well as a telephone line to provide information regarding COVID-19 prevention measures and medical and psychological counselling. Joining forces with civil society organisations and volunteers, the Municipality is coordinating and helping with the delivery of food and essential goods to the most vulnerable groups. The Municipality has begun conditioning a historical bullring for the relocation and protection of those without a home. The City opened a shelter “Casa de la Mujer” (Women’s home), for women who have been abused during the mandatory isolation period.
The City created a virtual platform “Aprende con Lima Educación”, which provides different educational resources for the citizens of Lima and an educational project “La Escuela de Lima” (Lima’s School) through which people have access to conferences and free online workshops.
The City of Ljubljana has organised home food delivery for children from at risk families and elderly citizens. Drivers of city buses are volunteering to perform the deliveries. The Ljubljana Health Centre has ensured psychosocial support via phone or email for anyone potentially struggling with the current epidemiological situation. The Home Care Institution Ljubljana is now offering the elderly and their families free therapeutic/consultative support via telephone that would contribute to the increased independence of the elderly in their home environment.
The City of Ljubljana offered empty and disinfected rooms in Hostel Celica, run by the Ljubljana Castle public institute, to be used by the University Medical Centre for the accommodation of their staff. The hostel is intended for workers who come to work from other towns, so they do not need to drive home every day and self-protective measures are made easier.
The public institution Young Dragons also organises quality and active leisure time for young people during this epidemic. The digital youth centre DigiMC was opened, where young people can choose content according to their own interests, participate in conversations and other activities.
The community health centres in Ljubljana provide all urgent curative health care services for their patients and regular check-ups of children up to 12 months of age, including vaccination.
Mayor Garcetti declared a local emergency to support quick action and coordination of local public health agencies.
The City of Los Angeles introduced an official mass notification system, ‘NotifyLA’, to send voice messages, text messages and emails to residents and businesses during times of emergencies and disasters. Residents sign up online.
A new public-private collaboration was created to multiply the number of hospital beds. Hotels, pavilions and retirement homes for the slightly affected were medicalised.
Schools are closed along with all municipal facilities including cultural centres, senior centres, libraries and sports centres.
The regional government announced the daily disinfection of regular public passenger transport: it applies to all metro trains, suburban trains, trams and light rail, stations and urban furniture. Metro has established the automatic opening of doors in 64% of the metro trains.
Madrid City Council approved EUR 63 million tax breaks on receipts from the Economic Activities Tax and the taxes for leisure, hospitality and commercial establishments, travel agencies and department stores, on the condition that they keep workers jobs until the end of year.
The city has reduced political activity to a minimum. Council plenary sessions in all the districts have been suspended.
The government of Mexico City has a dedicated website with statistics updated in real time on the number of COVID-19 cases reported and the number of deaths as well as the hospitals where people can go to be treated and have available debs. The information is provided at the borough level (alcaldía). It includes information on the different programmes adopted to face the social and economic problems derived from the health emergency. The website includes information explaining the use of public resources (contracts, support to SMEs, unemployment insurance, etc.) to respond to the crisis. It provides citizens with information regarding the public services available and the ways to have access to them.
The Mayor of Milan announced the establishment of a mutual aid fund to help those most in need and then to support the recovery of city activities. The fund, in addition to the allocation of EUR 3 million already approved by the City Council, is open to the economic participation of individual citizens, companies and associations who want to give their contribution. The fund raised EUR 800,000 on its first day (14 March).
The city is distributing facemasks to doctors and paediatricians (for their patients), shop keepers and taxi drivers, social housing and safety kits to riders. Empty buildings owned by the Municipality are destined to welcome vulnerable people who need to isolate.
“Milano Aiuta” is a programme to coordinate local volunteering activities, with the aim to merge health and social care, taking precautions and at the same time keeping the necessary services for the population active.
There are temporary Food Hubs for the distribution of food to the most vulnerable families. The city has given vouchers for grocery shopping for the families most affected by the COVID-19 emergency due to lack of income or loss of employment. The city has created a georeferenced map of all small retailers selling necessary goods and delivering them at home.
The Montpellier CHU uses the Mhlink application, which allows for remote monitoring of patients with COVID-19, who are confined in their homes as their health does not require hospitalisation.
Montreal took a series of measures to protect the population from COVID-19, in accordance with the recommendations and guidelines issued by the regional public health department. Measures include the opening of a walk-in massive testing clinic, a series of resources and economic measures to assist Montréal businesses, support to homeless residents and community organisations. The city is also working with Government and community partners in order to handle the current situation.
Montreal also took measures to support the homeless during the COVID-19 crisis (i.e. improving shelter services, chemical toilets, sanitary products, food assistance, continuing winter measures). The City was working with several partners to find spaces that could become homeless shelters.
Due to COVID-19 and its strong impact on businesses, the City of Montreal is offering emergency financial support and is taking measures to help businesses. The City has created a hotline and a form so that businesses can get the information and support that is provided. Assistance measures include postponement of municipal taxes, emergency financial assistance, automatic moratorium on capital and interest, etc.
Public schools, sports schools and additional education institutions were closed and pupils are following their studies online through the "Moscow Electronic School". Special medical buildings were equipped for COVID-19 patients and suspected cases.
Patients coming from countries with a poor epidemiological situation are referred to infectious disease clinical hospitals. Additional beds were prepared for them in city hospitals. A maternity hospital was temporarily transformed into an inpatient clinic for COVID-19 patients.
Firms are required to send home their employees who show symptoms.
At the entrances to the Moscow Metro random temperature checks were conducted through a contactless method.
The Operational Headquarters for Economic Affairs in Moscow prepared proposals to support businesses and organisations whose activities are limited due to the crisis.
New York put in place a text notification system to convey regular updates on the latest developments.
The City declared facemasks, hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes temporarily in short supply to prevent stores from overcharging citizens. It is also temporarily illegal to drastically increase prices to secure access and affordability for vulnerable groups.
The local government distributed thousands of palm cards with tips on handwashing and seeking care, and produced FAQs, fact sheets (in 15 languages) and educational materials for general public as well as for businesses, employers and 16,000 community partners.
A USD 6.5 million subway, digital and multi-media campaign was launched to encourage hygiene and seeking care when symptomatic. A drive-through testing facility was set up in New Rochelle, the epicentre of the outbreak.
Oakland declared a local emergency and cancelled all large public events, as well as expanding sanitation services for unsheltered residents. The city set up a COVID-19 emergency planning team, working closely with the county public health office and the California Department of Public Health.
Palermo, Sicily Region
Schools, cinemas, theatres and museums were closed along with pubs, night clubs, gyms, etc. Civil and religious ceremonies, including funerals and weddings were cancelled.
Palermo prohibited visitors staying in first aid waiting rooms.
Paris is co-ordinating daily crisis meetings involving all stakeholders. Information is updated on the paris.fr website. The city is using Covidom, a digital application to monitor confirmed or suspected patients in their home. It allows hospitals to regulate patient flows. Two centres were opened specifically for homeless people who may be contaminated but do not require hospitalisation. Access to these centres is granted by medical advice, in consultation with regional agencies health (ARS). The Paris Opera and Apollo Theatre, among others, have made their productions digitally available for free. On Friday 17 April, the City of Paris jointly with Parisian Public Hospitals (AP-HP) and ACCOR company started the “COVISAN” project to quarantine those potentially infected and contagious who don’t need hospitalisation and thus protect their families. Specially adapted rooms in hotels are made available to those who volunteer to participate. At the beginning, priority is given to working class neighbourhoods where according to recent surveys more people than average are impacted by the virus. To guarantee the success of the project a partnership has been developed to associate all parties involved --institutions, professionals and volunteers. On 9 April, the City of Paris provided families paying the lowest canteen rates with an exceptional aid of EUR 50 to 150 per month (and an extra EUR 50 for the second and third child only). It will benefit 28,579 Parisian families, i.e. 52,000 children. Jointly with the State and the Parisian region, the City of Paris has developed schemes to back up and support economic actors (i.e. freezing of rents, road and terrace taxes and miscellaneous municipal taxes for closed business and NGOs, support to the agricultural sector and next door distribution circuits).
COVID-19 text alerts were available for residents who signed up.
Rome approved its guidelines for shared electric scooters to allow for the introduction of several thousand scooters via two service providers.
On 17 March events with more than 50 people were prohibited and recommended that bars and restaurants operate at 50% of their capacity.
The city is hiring health professionals, and implemented the COVID-19 Contingency Plan with 29 actions.
The traditional presentation of the Passion of Christ, which was scheduled to take place in April, was postponed to September.
Since the first COVID-19 diagnosis and subsequent national Alert Phase declaration on 28 February, the City of Reykjavík Emergency Committee lead by Mayor Eggertsson has met near daily in order to plan contingency measures in response to the pandemic. The response aims at limiting the spread of the virus, protecting citizens and employees as well as possible and ensure that there will be no disruption to necessary services. Reykjavík’s community centres, day care centres, work and activity-focused support services and short-term admissions for the elderly, handicapped and people who suffer from underlying diseases were closed temporarily, as well as museums, sports centres, skiing resorts and public pools. The city has taken on extra measures in order to protect its waste management employees.
Internal website was set up in 10 languages already by 16 March, containing general facts on COVID-19 as well as important guidelines for employees on sanitation and security, and information on their legal rights and duties during the situation. The City updates this site regularly as the situation evolves.
The City disseminates all the latest decisions, news and announcements regularly via the website www.reykjavik.is.
The City of Reykjavík encourages the use of its e-services and staff are asked to work from home if possible. Elementary schools and kindergartens remain open because of the limited risk posed to children by the virus, and their apparent low risk of spreading it. This allows for parents, especially those in COVID-19 emergency response, to continue to work. Universities and secondary schools were closed.
In Riga, schools, cultural facilities were closed and took place in a remote mode. Kindergartens stayed open for small groups for families whose parents mainly work for state and municipal institutions (policemen, medical personnel, teachers). It is planned that a digital platform virtual class will be introduced, which will resemble an ordinary class but carried out in a remote manner.
In order to reduce the spread of the virus in public transport, front doors in trolleybuses and buses are not used, while open cabs are enclosed up to the front row of seats avoiding passenger access; drivers do not sell single-trip tickets. Audio information is provided to the public transport passengers with a call to assess the need for each trip. Alternate seat marking for a distance of 2 metres is used. Mouth and nose covering masks on public transport from 12 May has become mandatory requirement for passengers. Traffic light call buttons are replaced for pedestrian contactless detectors.
Information about all changes is regularly referred to the mass media, posted on the website, published on social networks and broadcast on public transport monitors.
During the emergency situation, the cultural institutions of Riga municipality offered the residents to get involved in the cultural process using the e-environment: to get acquainted with museum collections, view exhibition expositions, register for the e-book library, listen to concert recordings.
As of 10 June, most of the restrictions have been lifted and municipal sports facilities are available to residents. From 10 June culture institutions are fully operational.
In certain city departments it is also planned to introduce one day in a week as a remote working day and hold several online webinars instead of life meetings. In addition, where possible, employees are encouraged to continue teleworking and those, who travel to work, can have flexible working hours to escape rush hours in transport. Employees are encouraged to commute (home-work-home) by bicycle, scooters or walking instead of using public transport.
Two-sided green traffic wave in the streets is created, where it is allowed by street configuration. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of public vehicle driver's cabs and passenger compartments are provided. Customer service centres and administrative offices are equipped with protective plastics. Customer service centre staff and ticket inspectors are provided with protective masks, gloves and individual sanitizers;
Rio de Janeiro
On 13 March, the mayor announced measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Classes and all cultural activities are suspended. The city has recommended that alternative work shift shifts be adopted to avoid overcrowding in transport so that the industry sector starts the first shift at 6 am, trade at 8 am, and the service sector at 10 am, . Whenever possible, workers should telework. People with low immunity (asthma, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cancer, chronic and transplanted kidneys) have been advised to stay at home.
The government has conducted a public awareness campaign on all social networks, partnering with the transport, telephone and media concessionaires, using official material from the Federal Government as a source. A crisis cabinet has been established with members of the secretariats of Health, Culture, Education, Social Assistance and Human Rights, Public Order, Transport, Finance, Civil House and Healthy Aging.
A new style of restaurants and bars that uses public pedestrian space is also experimented in Saga prefecture (Japan). The programme “SAGA Night Terrace Challenge” is developed in a central business district, in cooperation with Saga City and local business association, for providing safer place to eat and drink and supporting local businesses
San Francisco has built a dedicated webpage and a dedicated news alert service by text.
The city has adopted a strategy of "shelter in place", which requires that all but essential workers remain at home, to protect the most vulnerable. The City issued a moratorium on residential evictions related to financial impacts caused by COVID-19 (i.e. loss of income related to a business closure, loss of hours or wages, layoffs, or out-of-pocket medical costs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic). The eviction moratorium is in effect for 30 days, and can be extended by the Mayor for another 30 days through an Executive Order. Residents are encouraged to call rather than visit directly their health care provider and to go to the emergency room only if essential.
San Jose implemented COVID-19 assistance for the homeless. Steps taken to assist this vulnerable group include: Suspending encampment abatements to avoid putting anyone at risk unintentionally; Providing handwashing stations, portable toilets, and water to encampments; Expanding shelter capacity and keeping seasonal shelters open; Sending outreach teams to encampments to help individuals understand how to protect themselves ; Requesting faith-based shelter providers expand their services; Identifying individuals who are 50+ with chronic conditions who need to be sheltered or separated; and, Developing protocols for transporting individuals when isolation or quarantine is necessary.
The state expanded measures to combat COVID-19 and reserved a thousand new intensive care beds.
The city of Sao Paulo developed an assistance protocol for treating suspected or confirmed cases (i.e. standardised services and specific criteria for hospitalisation of patients, digital monitoring through telemedicine).
In early March, all public activities initiated by the Municipality of Sintra and those in which the municipality participated were suspended. Knowing that it was necessary to keep people away from places of greater affluence, in the second week of March, the municipality decided to close all municipal buildings for culture, sport and leisure, such as the cultural centre, swimming pools, museums, studios, gyms, among others. A strong conditioning in public attendance was also decided.
Regarding the workers of the municipality, the vast majority are teleworking, with only a small group considered indispensable, which includes the offices of the President and Councillors, as well as all those who have responsibilities in health, hygiene and civil protection, remain physically in service.
The municipality of Sintra did not suspend any of the ongoing investments and continues to comply with all the contracts it signed even when contractors suspended their activities (i.e. nurseries, theatres, orchestras, bands, ranches, etc.).
The City Council suspended for 3 months (until 30 June) all rents paid by inhabitants of social housing and non-profit associations (IPSS’s, Sports and Cultural Associations). Together, these measures will cover approximately 1,700 families and 70 associations.
The Municipality uses some of these digital tools, as well as developing applications on its own to support cutting-edgework methods. The city launched an initiative called Big Brother, in which high school students teach elementary schoolers as part of the Personal Commitment project. To ensure direct access for all pupils, the city distributed 750 laptops and more than 100 tablets to children who do not own devices suitable for remote learning.
The Social Services Administration’s normal response to populations with special needs (children and youth at-risk, cases of domestic violence, homeless people and substance abusers) has been substantially expanded during the past few weeks.
The Municipality launched the “Stay at Home” campaign, urging residents to stay in their homes and offering a wide range of activities to stave off boredom.
Following the outbreak of the crisis, the Municipality spearheaded a relief package for business owners, which was also approved by Forum 15, the Israeli Forum of Self-Government Cities(municipalities that are fiscally autonomous and not dependent on national balancing or development grants).The relief package includes: an exemption from paying municipal taxes for three months (reflecting a 25% discount on the yearly tax bill), jointly funded by the government and the Municipality; an exemption from the fees charged for placing tables and chairs and/or putting up a partition on the sidewalk; an exemption from the fee charged for a night time operating license; and postponement of the mandatory dismantlement of the glass-walled extensions used in wintertime by restaurants and cafes.
https://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/en/Documents/Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipalitys Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.pdf
Tokyo created a one-stop database on the real-time COVID-19 situation, including the number of infected people, their status, features (age, gender), number of inquiries to the call centre, number of people using subways. It also provides open-data and source code of webpage, so that other municipalities and institutions can use these data and replicate similar webpages.
The city is providing subsidies for small and medium sized enterprises to support the cost of installing equipment and software to promote teleworking. It has also developed an emergency loan programme and free consulting services for SMEs that are affected by the crisis.
Tokyo announced it would issue a one-time payment for SMEs who showed their full cooperation in response to Tokyo’s requests and calls for cooperation to prevent further spread of the virus, such as suspending the use of their facilities. In addition, it is taking specific measures to support. SMEs and other companies, such as providing subsidies for introduction of necessary equipment and software required for teleworking through an emergency loan programme and free consulting services for SMEs that are affected by the crisis.
The Governor delivers live broadcasts in Japanese almost every day to deliver Tokyo’s latest updates on this virus and other relevant information, which is also aired in English every Friday.
The city had established a new call centre, Tokyo COVID-19 Support Centre for Foreign Residents, to respond to a range of inquiries from foreign nationals on 17 April, which is available in 14 languages including English, Chinese and others.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government has formulated a roadmap to overcome the virus on 22 May, which aims to realize a society where “new normal,” including thorough hand washing and wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, and avoiding the “three Cs (Closed spaces, Crowded places and Closed conversation),” would be firmly established, while also working to strike a balance between stopping the spread of COVID-19 and economic activities.
Regarding the water sewage charges, Tokyo allows customers to defer the payment for a certain period when they request the postponement by the reason of payment difficulties.
Tokyo offers consultation on domestic violence over the phone which is available in Japanese and five foreign languages.
The city has started issuing a one-time payment for SMEs who showed their full cooperation in response to Tokyo’s requests and calls for cooperation to prevent further spread of the virus, such as suspending the use of their facilities. In addition, an emergency loan programme and free consulting services were put in place for SMEs affected by the crisis.
The city and industry groups have formulated guidelines on proper prevention measures for reopening their businesses after the lift of the TMG’s State of Emergency Measures. Also, TMG supports them by providing subsidies for implementing proper measures and dispatching advisers.
TMG is going to prepare a sticker showing that food businesses etc. have implemented proper measures to prevent the spread of the virus, so that people can feel safe using their facilities.
TMG has introduced a digital contact tracing service to reduce the risk of community transmission and lead to prompt consultation when people suspect infection. Those using public facilities could register their email address by QR code and would receive an email or a LINE app notification in case someone used the facilities is tested positive for COVID-19.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government has made hotel rooms and municipally owned housing temporally available for people who were left homeless by COVID-19.
TMG launched “Support Art in Tokyo Project” which broadly support artists and creators who are forced to postpone or cancel their performances and events. It will pay those who submit videos around five to ten minutes in length, in place of a
performance fee. In addition, it has decided to financially support the event organisers when they would hold events at theater or concert hall without audience or restricting admissions and stream the videos for free for a certain period of time.
From April to May, the Governor of Tokyo broadcasted on the Internet in Japanese almost every day and in English every Friday to provide the latest information on the virus. In the first and second week of June, the program was broadcasted in Japanese
Venice, Veneto Region
Venice conducted an extraordinary disinfection of boats, gondolas and buses in the early stage of the pandemic. In line with national directives, the Biennale di Venezia has been postponed to August – it should have commenced in May.
In a strong cooperation with Ltd. “VTU Valmiera” and Ltd “Vidzeme hospital”, the municipality provides a transportation and premises for self-isolation and quarantine for those in need.The municipality provides home delivery services of food and pharmacy products for those Valmiera citizens living alone.
In order to support families and working parents during this period, the municipality provided home delivered lunch - meal for all pupils from 1st to 6th grade, as well as for pupils from 7th to 9th grade, if they come from multiple children families with poor or low-income. Warm lunch was also provided for seniors and alone living citizens, as well as for specialists from Emergency Medical Service Department and Covid-19 test point.
Real-estate tax payment due date has been postponed from March to November.
From 20 May to 4 June each Wednesday and Thursday the video conference between the municipality and local businesses was held in order to discuss the up-to date information in relation to Covid-19.Small and medium-sized enterprise support program is established in order to support the recovering after Covid-19. In order to support the entrepreneurs, the municipality cancelled the outdoor trade tax as well as eased the conditions for outdoor catering. The rent payment for real estate or movable property is either cancelled or reduced.
In view of the expected increase in the number of people infected, the City of Vienna converted an exhibition hall into a huge care room that provides food and basic medical care. The facility is intended to host people with mild symptoms who do not need to go to hospital, but who have difficulty caring for themselves at home.
The City of Vienna has commissioned Atos, a global leader in digital transformation, to develop and implement an Epidemic Management System (EMS) to support the control of the spread of infectious diseases. Due to the ongoing current COVID-19 crisis, EpiSYS, a digital platform, which stores and manages all patient data and data related to the virus - including tracking and tracing patient incident reports, in real-time – have been made available to other municipalities and provinces in Austria as well.
The City of Vienna now offers its free Förderung 2.0 (“Support 2.0”) tutoring initiative for 10-14 year- olds, which offers additional support in the subjects of German, Mathematics and English for lower secondary students.
Washington DC’s “ReOpen DC” outlines a roadmap with a focus on transport usage in a context that will be marked by COVID-19 for months to come. Specific measures to rethink the orientation of public spaces include prioritising wider sidewalks, increasing bike lanes and reassigning more lanes for the Lifeline Network bus corridors. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has also prepared a plan focusing on stabilisation through the summer – where construction and reparation works will be widely deployed to capitalise on low ridership rate – and a managed re-entry starting in September, where bus routes will be reassigned and aligned with the metro system’s modified timetables to reduce crowding. The WMATA is also boosting efforts to bundle fares between modes of transport and to roll out contactless payments in an integrated manner. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) – made up of more than 1,500 public and private sector members across the US and Canada – has published wide documentation, including a checklist for restoring public transport services during a pandemic, guidance on disinfecting transport, and a white paper on safeguarding public transport employees and users, among others. In April, the APTA created a new Mobility Recovery and Restoration Task Force, which is developing a roadmap for public transportation services in the post COVID-19 pandemic world. The results of the Task Force will include a set of recommendations covering a wide range of issues critical to public transportation’s future success, including safeguarding employees and riders, public and rider confidence, and customer-focused operations, as well as resiliency, equity and societal needs.
https://coronavirus.dc.gov/reopendc https://www.wmata.com/about/board/meetings/board-pdfs/upload/3A-COVID-19-Recovery-Final.pdf https://www.apta.com/news-publications/press-releases/releases/american-public-transportation-association-creates-new-mobility-recovery-and-restoration-task-force/
https://www.apta.com/research-technical-resources/standards/security/apta-ss-sem-wp-016-20/ ; https://www.apta.com/public-transit-response-to-coronavirus/apta-resources/; https://www.apta.com/wp-content/uploads/COVID-19_Transit_Guide_FINAL_04132020.pdf
Yokohama closed schools and prepared special programmes in elementary schools for the children who could not be cared for at home. The city started video distribution of the lessons for elementary, junior high and high school students (about 270,000) by internet from 8 April, cooperating with an e-learning system company. As there might be students who cannot access the internet, some of the lessons were made to be available to watch at the sub channel of local TV station (TV Kanagawa) from 20 April.
Events supervised by the city have been cancelled or postponed and city facilities (libraries, sports centres, museums, etc.) closed.
The city established a special consulting office for small and medium sized enterprises that provides special financing schemes for businesses. A stock of 500,000 surgical masks was distributed to elderly and child welfare institutions.
Yokohama also strengthened the distribution of the information related to COVID-19 to the foreigners staying in the city, through its affiliated foundation, “Yokohama Association for International Communication and Exchanges (YOKE)”. YOKE has created website, gathering the relevant information, especially in English and Chinese (there is a large Chinatown in Yokohama.).
The city accepts applications for municipal housing (50 units) from people who lost their residence because of lay-offs (evacuated from dormitory, etc.) or who cannot pay the rent due to decreases in income, from 1 May. Housing is offered at the lowest rate for at least 6 months (which can be extended to one year).
Various global institutions have launched initiatives to facilitate best practice sharing between cities. Like the OECD initiative, these actions collect first-hand experiences and encourage collective responses s across the globe.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is virtually convening experts in public health and city leadership. Along with partners at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new programme of support to help American mayors respond to the rapidly evolving corona virus crisis. In partnership with the National League of Cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the COVID-19: Local Action Tracker. It features a sortable grid detailing the policy decisions and actions that city leaders across the United States are making to contain the spread of the virus and respond to community impact. City leaders can submit their actions to be included on the tracker, which will be updated daily to reflect the rapid developments of the crisis. Actions such as testing protocols, curfews, donation drives, and food programmes will be highlighted to give leaders insight into emerging practices and what is working in cities. In partnership with the National Association of City Transportation, Bloomberg Philanthropies also launched the Transportation Response Center to provide virtual guidance and technical assistance to mayors and city transportation officials to mitigate the numerous short-term and long-term COVID-19 related challenges facing public transportation. In addition, in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the City Fiscal Tracking and Federal Reimbursement Initiative. This initiative will serve as a hub of best practices and will feature guidance for US cities to access and track federal programs and funding mechanisms to support their recovery from COVID-19.
C40 Cities has established a Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force to drive forward an economic recovery that improves public health, reduces inequality and addresses the climate crisis. The Task Force will explore ways for the economic recovery from COVID-19 to get people back to work, while ensuring climate breakdown doesn’t become an even bigger crisis for the global economy and the lives and livelihoods of communities worldwide. The members of the task force are: Chair of the Task Force Mayor of Milan, Italy, Giuseppe Sala; Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr; Secretary for the Environment of Hong Kong, China, KS Wong; Mayor of Lisbon, Portugal, Fernando Medina; Mayor of Rotterdam, Netherlands, Ahmed Aboutaleb; Mayor of Medellín, Colombia, Daniel Quintero Calle; Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Australia, Sally Capp; Mayor of Montréal, Canada, Valérie Plante; Mayor of New Orleans, USA, LaToya Cantrell; Mayor of Seattle, USA, Jenny Durkan; Mayor of Seoul, South Korea, Won-soon Park. On 7 May, the Taskforce issued a statement of principles calling for a healthy, sustainable, and equitable economic recovery from Covid-19. This statement urges that the recovery not be a return to business as usual, which was on track for 3°C of over-heating, and stresses the importance of adhering to public health and scientific expertise, guaranteeing public services, addressing equity, and pursuing efforts to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. In July, these principles were further detailed into the C40 Mayors Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery, outlining measures focused on creating green jobs, investing in crucial public services, protecting mass transit, supporting essential workers, and giving public spaces back to people and nature. In addition, C40 has been sharing best practices from its member cities on topics related to COVID-19, such as mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the lockdown and prioritising reactive and long-term policy responses.
Cities for Global Health, led by Metropolis, is part of the "Live Learning Experience: beyond the immediate response to the outbreak", developed by UCLG and supported by UN-Habitat. They have developed a collaborative online platform that offers access to knowledge, strategies and actionable plans implemented by local and regional governments around the globe. This virtual space highlights what cities are doing with specific initiatives or plans to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. More than 600 initiatives have been uploaded to the platform from 32 countries and 97 cities. The coalition is also hosting a series of virtual exchanges on specific topics related to the role of public service delivery between cities and partners.
Core Cities UK “Strengthening the Core” Programme strives to protect the 26% of the UK’s economy that city regions already deliver; safeguard the economies of surrounding towns and cities; and build the strongest possible recovery. As a group including cities within England and the Devolved Administrations, it provides a UK-wide network that can act now to create immediate and accountable impact on the ground. In the short-to-medium term, the organisation is drawing up some detailed proposals on how recovery can happen by sector within cities and their eco systems. This is done by working on local government financial resilience, gathering together big, catalytic projects across cities that can act as stimulus to regional and national economy and reimagining the future of cities. In addition, Core Cities UK has collected best practices from its network grouped according to 5 key policy areas: culture and community; transport and infrastructure; jobs, business and financial support; housing and homelessness; and public health.
The Council of Europe Bank (CEB) provides flexible and timely financing to help cities in its member countries implement their COVID-19 recovery strategies and strengthen overall resilience, in line with its core mandate to promote social cohesion and help build thriving and resilient communities. CEB’s capacity to swiftly deploy its support can enable cities and municipal companies to counter the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and thus ensure continuity of their planned infrastructure investment programmes. The CEB is also supporting cities in their efforts to implement a sustainable and resilient recovery by co-financing investments that promote environmental sustainability, reduce GHG emissions and help cities adapt to climate change. The recent launch of the Green Social Investment Fund (GSIF) in March 2020 enhances CEB’s capacity to support climate action and environmental sustainability components in the investment projects it finances. The GSIF can help cities build more sustainable and climate-resilient local economies as they recover from COVID-19. The GSIF provides grants with the objective to promote environmental sustainability, scale up decarbonisation and make CEB-financed social infrastructure resilient to climate change, while making climate action and other environmental sustainability measures more affordable and accessible to vulnerable groups. Projects benefiting from grant resources from the Fund will have to demonstrate their positive climate-related, social and environmental impact. Furthermore, CEB financing aims to mitigate the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lower-income, marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, migrants and refugees. The CEB has also launched a dialogue series with the mayors of several European cities – such as Helsinki, Turku, Tirana and Genoa – to highlight the measures they are taking to boost resilience for future shocks and ensure that the COVID-19 recovery is both socially inclusive and green.
Eurocities is compiling examples of city actions on its webpage dedicated to the COVID-19 crisis. Each entry, grouped according to one of several key categories (e.g. culture, economy), provides a short summary of the city action, followed by a link to a more detailed description in the city’s (or other dedicated) website. Eurocities has also released a preliminary overview of measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. In June 2020, cities of the network issued a joint declaration entitled “EU recovery powered by cities” calling the European Commission to involve cities more in EU recovery programmes and for direct access for cities to European funding.
The European Commission’s Intelligent Cities Challenge has launched a wider support package for COVID-19 to facilitate learning and the sharing of best practices on effective city-led interventions from European and global cities. The aim of this initiative is to help cities navigate the current crisis and implement appropriate responses.
The European Territorial Cooperation Program (URBACT) is currently gathering and mapping all responses to the pandemic in European cities. Several National URBACT Points are actively engaging their cities in gathering more information about this topic and feeding this page. Measures pertaining to supporting local businesses is a notable concern for cities in most OECD Member States.
The Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM) launched a “Mayors Act Now Campaign” on its website and the Virtual Parliament to keep mayors connected during the pandemic and share local and regional initiatives worldwide.
The Global Resilient Cities Network (GRCN) and the World Bank are convening a weekly online Speakers Series on how cities are responding to COVID-19. Chief resilience officers and other key urban policymakers regularly participate in this series to share their expertise and experiences in responding to the crisis. GRCN has also launched an open, participatory and collaborative platform in which cities could exchange knowledge and learning, and identify key actions and initiatives to address the impacts of the crisis and further future proof their systems in the face of global challenges. As partners of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, they are opening select sessions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Local 2030 has held a call on Local COVID-19 Response and Recovery to develop messages and a Call to Action for local level capacity building, financing and continued incorporation of SDG mainstreaming (principles of inclusion, sustainability, and leaving no one behind) into preparedness, response and recovery phases. The initiative aims to identify mechanisms for partners to more regularly connect and exchange solutions regarding the COVID-19 response. Local 2030 has also launched the Local 2030 Spotlight Series to facilitate experience and knowledge sharing among stakeholders involved in the local response to the COVID-19 crisis through short videos. Partners and stakeholders around the world are invited to prepare and share 2-minute video contributions highlighting their perspectives on the main challenges and innovative solutions developed at the local level to fight the outbreak.
Metropolis has launched the Cities for Global Health initiative, co-led with the Euro-Latin-American Alliance of Cooperation among Cities, AL-LAs, and is part of “Live Learning Experience: beyond the immediate response to the outbreak”, developed by UCLG and supported by UN-Habitat and Metropolis (both detailed above).
OPEN IDEO (IDEO’s open innovation practice that enables people worldwide to come together and build solutions for today's toughest societal problems.) is currently co-ordinating with global response authorities who want to make sure people have actionable, relevant information around COVID-19. They are seeking to share a range of experiences from around the world, demonstrating how people are accessing information.
UNESCO has launched a call for stories to collect information on local interventions to address the vulnerability of specific groups that have limited access to the services provided in response to the pandemic, and on city-level initiatives that are specifically conducted to fight discrimination and stigma in all its forms. UNESCO has also hosted a series of webinars and published best practices and recommendations for learners, teachers, parents and policy makers on topics such as home-schooling, distance learning and culture.
United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) is currently focusing on information sharing in collaboration with the Global Network of Local Authorities. The Global City Platform has already collected more than 295 experiences of cities around the world. A forum called the live learning experience has been organised for mayors to exchange on key issues stemming from the pandemic, such as solutions for homeless people, the continuity of transports so that people can reach hospitals and other essential services and the digital divide inasmuch as it affects children and their education. There is also a debate on immigration and the rights of migrants and food security as well as access to culture, as a solution for both the sustenance of workers of culture as well as citizen services. A debate is held every week on this forum to discuss on the different points and discussion is currently shifting to how cities will be dealing with the recovery process.
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has launched an initiative on local government finance for COVID-19 responses. Every preventive and containment measure requires resources and has a fiscal aspect. To finance their epidemic response, local governments rely on three major sources: own revenues, intergovernmental transfers and sub-national borrowing. The UNCDF aims to provide guidance to local governments on immediate responses and provide key dimensions of successful responses.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), alongside several partners in the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership (SIP), developed a set of ten principles for post-COVID-19 recovery focusing on investing in sustainable and resilient infrastructure. The ‘Principles for Recovery’ provide a framework for decision making on infrastructure spending for post-COVID-19 recovery and stimulus packages.The Principles call for decisions on infrastructure spending for post-COVID-19 recovery to start with strategic planning that is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Such planning, the Principles note, should consider systemic linkages between sectors and across space and time. To avoid future crises, the Principles recommend that infrastructure ensure resilience through integrated, systems-level planning and built-in flexibility and redundancy.
What Works Cities has put together a COVID-19: Local Government Response and Resource Bank for local government leaders. This curated list of city examples, resources, and commentary is intended to offer helpful insights to local governments and is organised in five sections: data tools and resources; resources for local government; local actions; op-eds and commentary specific to local government; and COVID-19 guidelines and updates.
The World Economic Forum (WEF), acting as partner to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is mobilising stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods in the fight against COVID-19. The WEF’s strategic intelligence tool now features a breakdown on COVID-19 that is accessible even to those not registered on the platform. WEF’s recently launched COVID Action Platform will focus on three priority areas: galvanising the global business community for collective action, protecting people’s livelihoods and facilitating business continuity, and mobilising cooperation and business support for the COVID-19 response.
This note was drafted by a core OECD team composed of Soo-Jin Kim, Tadashi Matsumoto, Kate Brooks, Oriana Romano, Elisa Elliott Alonso and Lucie Charles, with inputs from Aline Matta, Kenza Khachani, Camille Viros, Klara Fritz, Oscar Huerta Melchor, Atsuhito Oshima, Jonathan Crook, Elvira Shafikova, Tetsuji Sugayoshi and Claire Charbit, under the supervision of Aziza Akhmouch, Head of the Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Development Division in the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities.
Aziza AKHMOUCH (✉ Aziza.Akhmouch@oecd.org)
Alexandra TAYLOR (✉ Alexandra.Taylor@oecd.org)
More information is available at www.oecd.org/coronavirus.
OECD (2020), OECD Economic Outlook, Volume 2020 Issue 1, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/0d1d1e2e-en.
OECD/European Commission (2020), Cities in the World: A New Perspective on Urbanisation, OECD Urban Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/d0efcbda-en
Referring to “organisational, and/or citizen-led approach to neighbourhood building using short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions to catalyse long-term change”. More information available at http://tacticalurbanismguide.com/about/
“Citizens can have all their needs met—be they for work, shopping, health, or culture—within 15 minutes of their own doorstep”.
OECD (2020), OECD Economic Outlook, Volume 2020 Issue 1, No. 107, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/0d1d1e2e-en.
World Economic Forum, Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanisation 2019-2020 Term: April 2020 Calls, city contributions.
News Tank Cities (2020), "Ile de France: 31% utilisent moins où évitent les transports en commun depuis le 11 mai", News Tank Cities (09.07.2020)
Global Resilient Cities Network, “Cities for a Resilient Recovery, Emerging Data, Part 1 of 3, available at : https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vRF9KhvyfuNuftZ-LQCmKazg5BVT_am5/view
https://www.apta.com/research-technical-resources/standards/security/apta-ss-sem-wp-016-20/; https://www.apta.com/public-transit-response-to-coronavirus/apta-resources/; https://www.apta.com/wp-content/uploads/COVID-19_Transit_Guide_FINAL_04132020.pdf
Eurocities (2020), “Policy note: Overview of city measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of COVID-19”, policy note updated on 1 July 2020.
Eurocities (2020), “Policy note: Overview of social measures in cities to respond to COVID-19 crisis”, policy note updated on 1 July 2020.
Oxford Economics, 1 April, https://resources.oxfordeconomics.com/hubfs/City-Tourism-Outlook-and-Ranking.pdf
OECD (2020) COVID-19: Impact on Cultural and Creative Sectors, Policy Responses and Opportunities (forthcoming).