Urban Studies. Volume 60(9). pp 1535-1547.

COVID-19 had sudden and dramatic impacts on the organisation and governance of urban life. In Part 2 of this Special Issue on public health emergencies we question the extent to which the pandemic ushered in fundamentally new understandings of urban public health, noting that ideas of urban pathology and the relation of dirt, disease and danger in cities, have long informed practices of planning. Emphasising important continuities in the way pandemics are associated with minoritised and vulnerable groups, past and present, we note that public health initiatives can often exacerbate existing health divides, and actually deepen health crises. Against this, we document the emergence of participatory, community-led responses to the pandemic that offered the promise of more inclusive urban policy, often characterised by self-organisation. While we argue that any public health policy needs to be mindful of local contingencies, the promise of inclusive policies is that they will lead to healthier cities for all, not simply protect the health of the wealthy few.