Thursday 6 August 2020 5:07 pm

People must have the confidence to return to work, says PM

An economic recovery will require people to have the confidence to get back to the office, the Prime Minister has said in his latest attempt to push the UK to return to work.

During a visit to a housing development in Warrington this afternoon, Boris Johnson told reporters there were “real signs of strength in the UK economy”.

Read more: UK workers slowest in Europe to return to the office

“Unquestionably it will require people to have the confidence to go back to work in a Covid-secure way,” he said.

Just over one-third of UK white-collar employees have returned to work since the lockdown. That compares to almost three-quarters of staff in Europe, according to analysis from Morgan Stanley.

The PM changed lockdown measures this week to encourage employees to head back to the office. He also scrapped the guidance to avoid public transport unless absolutely necessary, paving the way for commuters to return to work.

A number of London firms have started to return to work, albeit in small numbers. Social distancing measures prevent a mass return but a number of employees have returned on a voluntary basis.

Lloyds and HSBC have indicated a return in September, while Barclays boss Jes Staley said he would like to see staff return “over time”.

Natwest has told its 50,000 staff that the vast majority can keep working from home until 2021.

Read more: The return to work: Here’s when City firms are going back to the office

“It’s also very, very important that we get all the schools back in September, on September 1 get all the pupils back into their schools,” the PM added.

“That will be also very, very important for getting our economy overall moving again.”

There has been some speculation that pubs may need to close to allow schools to reopen next month. It came after England’s chief medical officer said the country was “near the limit” of opening up society.

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