The UK Government may continue to encourage Brits to “work from home if you can” beyond the 21 June reopening date, snubbing a back-to-the-office push, according to reports.
Government sources told the Telegraph last night that Whitehall officials were weighing up whether to keep the “work from home” guidance as a mitigating measure, in the event that new Covid variants push hospitalisation and death rates up in the next few weeks.
Politicians, scientists and officials are considering whether to stick to the reopening roadmap, which says that by 21 June more close contact and major events are again allowed in society.
New variants have become a potential spanner in the works to that timetable, with the Delta variant, and its Nepalese sub-variant, thought to be more contagious and potentially more deadly.
Ministers will wait until 14 June to make a final decision about the next steps of reopening once more data is available.
The news comes after City A.M. revealed the government was minded to take a “gentle” approach in getting people back to the office this summer.
Government sources told City A.M. that ministers will not take a hardline approach to get people back into the office, unlike last year when Number 10 briefed media outlets that workers could be sacked if they continue to work from home.
Some City of London firms are slowly beginning to bring people back into the office, despite the government’s ongoing advice to work from home if possible, however footfall remains well below pre-pandemic levels.
The Cabinet Office is set to release its social distancing review in the coming weeks, which will guide if any restrictions will remain in place after 21 June – the target date to shed most or all Covid restrictions.
Asked whether measures such as working from home could continue after June 21, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC this morning: “Well, there are there are options that are clearly available to the Government.”
He added: “We set out within the road map what would be expected to happen at the next stage and we want to try to stick to that if we possibly can.
“All of us are moving everything we can to achieve that. But of course, we keep these things under review and we’re also asking people to continue to exercise caution in their daily lives.”