COVID-19: Boris Johnson aims to end work from home guidance from 21 June
People in England should no longer be advised to work from home after 21 June provided the country remains “on track” in the fight against coronavirus, Boris Johnson has told MPs.
The prime minister told the House of Commons on Wednesday it was his “intention” to end the work from home guidance in less than six weeks’ time.
And Mr Johnson predicted the “dynamism” of England’s cities could return “remarkably quickly” once workers return to offices.
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The home-working guidance in England has been in place since the beginning of January, when the country’s third national lockdown began.
Under the prime minister’s roadmap for lifting those lockdown restrictions, the government has promised a review of social distancing measures ahead of the fourth and final stage of the roadmap, slated to happen on 21 June.
The review is also due to inform the government’s guidance on home-working, with people advised to continue to work from home where they can until that review is complete.
Earlier this week, Mr Johnson confirmed England would move to stage three of the roadmap from Monday, 17 May.
But Downing Street said, despite the latest unlocking, people would still be encouraged to continue working from home where possible in stage three.
The prime minister was quizzed on Wednesday about when the work from home guidance might end.
Felicity Buchan, the Conservative MP for Kensington, asked: “The economy in central London is hurting, partly because of the lack of commuters, partly because of the lack of international visitors.
“Can you confirm that the plan is to lift the work from home guidance as of 21 June, provided we stay on track?”
In response, Mr Johnson told the Commons: “That is certainly our intention provided we stay on track but … we’ll wait until we’re able to say that with more clarity a bit later on because we must be guided by what’s happening with the pandemic.
“She’s so right about London and the dynamism of London and, indeed, any other of our great cities. They do depend on people being able to have confidence to go to work.
“I think it will come back, I think it could come back remarkably quickly, but it does depend on keeping the virus down.”
As well as his hopes of ending the work from home guidance, Mr Johnson earlier this week said the “one-metre plus” rule could also be ditched from 21 June.
This could allow pubs, restaurants and other venues to operate at larger capacities and serve more customers.
“When it comes to social distancing from 21 June, I look at the data very carefully and I think at the moment it looks to me as though we may be able to dispense with the one-metre plus rule,” Mr Johnson said on Monday as he confirmed England’s move to stage three of his roadmap from 17 May.
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At a Downing Street news conference on Monday, the prime minister also indicated that cities and towns will thrive again with social interaction.
“The more people can communicate remotely with brilliant electronic devices, the more able they are to meet other people over the internet or through the ether, the more reasons they actually find to meet face to face,” he said.
“I’m pretty certain – and I know this is contested – but I’m pretty certain that eventually our town centres and our city centres are going to be full of bustle, full of people wanting to interact again in the way that they always have done.”
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