Michael Gove has announced there is to be a “shift in emphasis” on the Government’s advice about going back to the workplace.
Speaking to Sky News, the Cabinet Office Minister said Brits will be encouraged to work from home to help “if possible” to curb the spread of coronavirus.
It comes ahead of an address from Boris Johnson on Tuesday evening, which will set out tough new restrictions in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
“If it is possible for people to work from home then we would encourage them to do so,” Mr Gove said.
He added: “It’s important to stress that there are many, many, many roles that can’t be performed from home… there are people in manufacturing, construction, retail and other roles… we recognise it is simply impossible.
“That’s why we have worked to ensure you can have Covid-secure workplaces.
“We need to balance the need for people to work and continue to go to school against taking steps to try and reduce the virus.”
He continued: “If we can encourage people to work from home, we will, but if people need to be in the office, we will work to make it as safe as possible.”
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove says ‘there’s going to be a shift of emphasis’ on working from home in the new #COVID19 restrictions.#KayBurley— SkyNews (@SkyNews) September 22, 2020
Get the latest #coronavirus news: https://t.co/hk8hrup8AY pic.twitter.com/q8Btm4YE1P
The latest U-turn marks a significant shift to advice given to office workers less than a month ago.
At the end of August the government planned a newspaper and television assault to get people back into the office, with an unnamed source suggesting to the Telegraph that those opting to keep working from home could make themselves “vulnerable” to redundancy in any post-Covid business shake-ups.
The announcement by coffee and sandwich chain Pret a Manger that it plans to axe 2,800 roles from its shops due to trade slumping by about 60 per cent year-on-year further fuelled Downing Street fears that town and city centres are becoming ghost areas as commuters stay away.
Shot. Chaser. pic.twitter.com/N7PjH1xyjw— David Schneider (@davidschneider) September 21, 2020
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