New York and London have had very different responses to the coronavirus crisis that has gripped Europe and the US in recent weeks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio put most of the Big Apple on knockdown while in London shops and bars are still open while commuters are still catching the tube to work – all-be-it in reduced numbers.
While there are differences in the make up of the cities – New York includes densely populated Manhattan Island, and sprawling London covers twice as many square miles – the varying approaches have raised questions about who has got the response right.
The Big Apple and its five boroughs, with some 8.6 million residents, has a similar population to London’s 8.8 million inhabitants.
But New York City covers around half the area of Britain’s capital, taking up 302.6 square miles to London’s 607 square miles – therefore making social distancing harder over a more densely populated area.
Here we explore how the two cities are battling the pandemic.
New York has seen its bars, cafes, theatres and museums shuttered after a city-wide lockdown was imposed. Londoners, as with the rest of Britain, were advised not to go to pubs, clubs and restaurants – but these establishments were not ordered to close by Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street yesterday
London has so far recorded 480 cases with 26 deaths, making it the hardest hit area in Britain.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people who live in London should pay special attention to government advice on isolation and social distancing, as the city is ahead of the rest of the country in terms of transmission speed.
New York has so far reported having 923 cases and 10 deaths from the virus. New York State with has seperate virus figures has been the worst-hit in the US with more than 1,750 infections.
Testing in Britain was limited only to those patients whose symptoms are so bad they have to be taken to hospital.
Boris Johnson has been criticised for not carrying out mass testing, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Labout leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded an increase in testing on an ‘industrial scale’ – pointing to the advice from the WHO, which has been highly critical of the move to tell people with symptoms to isolate at home, without being diagnosed.
But today Johnson vowed a dramatic escalation of the UK’s coronavirus testing capacity, saying the number of tests a day will be increased from the current level of around 5,000 to 25,000, with NHS staff prioritised.
The announcement came amid mounting alarm about the level of screening, with fury that NHS health workers are being forced to self-isolate because they are unsure whether they have the disease or not.
It has also been claimed that celebrities have been paying up to £345 to private firms for kits to check themselves for the virus at home.
In New York testing is free for all eligible residents, as ordered by a health care provider, officials said.
Donald Trump was also slammed for his slow response to the outbreak and for not providing sufficient tests.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking during a news conference on the coronavirus yesterday
Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the US government’s response, has since pledged to increase the availability of tests.
Entertainment – bars, restaurants and theatres
The British government has avoided ordering the closure of bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs while New York City Mayor De Blasio enacted city-wide closures of hospitality venues and issued a stringent night-time curfew.
Residents have been advised not to go to gatherings of bars, cafes, clubs and restaurants, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson stopped short of ordering their closure on Monday.
Both New York and London city centres have become virtual ghost towns with Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square in London seeing a severe drop in traffic and shoppers.
London’s West End saw it venues shutdown, but some revellers still braved the capital’s pubs to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, despite the government advice.
Johnson has been criticised for not ordering bars, cafes and restaurants to close and instead merely advising punters to stay away.
A man cycling past a shuttered movie theatre in Times Square following the city-wide lockdown
Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered the city-wide shuttering of bars, cafes, restaurants, museums, theatres and libraries while public schools were also closed.
He said on Tuesday he is considering making a ‘shelter-in-place’ order, meaning New Yorkers would only be able to leave their homes for food, medicine and exercise.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo today said there will be no ‘shelter in place’ order the state, despite considering the move on Tuesday.
The usually bustling Times Square, dubbed the ‘crossroads of the world’, saw just a handful of pedestrians and vehicles on Tuesday as the city went into lockdown.
Some of New York’s most popular bars were completely closed and Broadway was deserted as theatres cancelled their shows.
Children leaving Benjamin Altman school with school provided take out lunches, after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered schools closed due to the coronavirus
Despite many employees working from home and adults being advised to avoid mass gatherings, schools across Britain stayed open.
In response many universities have take the decision themselves to stop holding face-to-face lectures with students taking part in classes remotely via video.
In New York all schools were ordered to be closed along with social venues such as theatres, bars and restaurants.
Boris Johnson warned Britons to avoid social contact, to work from home where possible and advised people to stay away from public gatherings.
The US federal government on Monday urged Americans not to gather in groups of 10 or more and asked older people to stay home.
Commuters wearing masks as a precaution whilst travelling on a London Underground today. Some lines saw reduced passengers while others were still busy
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the London Underground would be running a reduced service after passenger numbers dropped and many commuters worked from home.
But many in London are still travelling on the Underground in order to get to work.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York said it does not plan on changing subway and bus service.
Both authorities in London and New York have been carrying out deep cleans of their infrastructure that is most used by the public, such as ticket terminals and hand rails.
Wembley Stadium yesterday after it was announced Euro 2020 has been postponed by one year until 2021
The London Marathon, which was scheduled to take place on April 26, was postponed until October 4.
Wembley Stadium will no longer host Euro 2020 Championships matches it had been allocated after the tournament was postponed until next year.
England’s international soccer matches at Wembley against Italy and Denmark, due to be played later this month, have also been cancelled.
All London’s five Premier League teams have had their fixtures postponed after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive.
New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets games were postponed after the National Basketball Association said on March 11 that it was suspending the season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the virus.