Coronavirus pandemic made European cities less livable: Report

European cities’ livability has decreased due to the coronavirus pandemic, while cities in Oceania and Japan grab the first six spots on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index 2021. The biannual report, which rates 140 cities around the world on their living conditions, identifies the second wave of lockdowns across Europe in the winter and spring as the main cause for the slip.

Cities in New Zealand, Japan and Australia top the rankings, with Zurich and Geneva the only European locations in the top ten most livable cities (seventh and eighth respectively). Vienna, ranked the number one most livable city by the Index between 2018 and 2020, has now fallen to twelfth place. The overall global average livability score also decreased.

Germany’s Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Dusseldorf saw the largest falls, closely followed by Prague, Dublin, and Rome. Bratislava and Athens were also among the ten cities with the largest decrease in livability. Additionally, Prague and Athens saw considerable falls in their healthcare score due to the stress on their health care systems caused by the pandemic.

However, some Spanish cities saw rises in the ranking, with Madrid and Barcelona among the cities that saw their health care score and overall livability increase the most due to an improved response to the second coronavirus wave.

Data for the report was gathered between February 22 and March 21, as Europe was experiencing a renewed rise in infections and a slow start to the vaccination rollout, which has since picked up speed. Several reports have found that Europeans are dissatisfied with the EU’s pandemic management.

“The pace of recovery of liveability in most regions will be determined by how effectively the health risks of the pandemic can be controlled, through a combination of vaccination, testing, tracing and quarantine measures,” the report predicts, adding that “what residents value in their cities may also have changed, with green spaces becoming more popular and public transport less so than before the pandemic.”



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