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Spread The News, Office Owners: The Commute Isn’t An Outsized Covid Risk

London Euston station was among those tested for Covid-19 risk to commuters.

One of the big things holding people back from coming to the office is worry about the risk of catching Covid-19 on the commute. Last year, the London Property Alliance flagged up the perception of Covid risk on trains, buses and tubes as a major factor dissuading people from returning to work more regularly in London’s central business districts.

But a new study should allow those with a vested interest in workers returning to the office to begin telling a different story. 

A series of tests found no trace of Covid-19 in air samples and swabs taken at four big British railway stations and on intercity trains, the BBC reported. 

Testing took place at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly stations, and included air samples and swabs of high touch areas like doors and escalator handles. 

Researchers at Imperial College examined the samples, which were taken in January and June, and found no traces of Covid-19. A similar study of London’s underground trains, buses and underground stations in February found similar results.

Transport bodies have been doing extra cleaning of networks since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to make them as safe as possible. 

The legal requirement to wear masks and socially distance was lifted on 19 July in England, but the government still advises the wearing of masks in enclosed or crowded spaces. 

London was the European city that saw the smallest proportion of workers going back to the office in summer and autumn last year when it looked like Covid-19 was receding, according to research from Morgan Stanley. The long commute was a dual factor in London workers' reticence, the investment bank said: In addition to the commute being seen as unsafe, people were taking advantage of extra time not travelling to work.