Boris Johnson intends to end working from home guidance on June 21
Guidance to work from home will be lifted on June 21, Boris Johnson has indicated.
The Prime Minister said it is “certainly our intention” to take that step at the last stage of the Government’s lockdown roadmap for England.
Government scientists have privately suggested that it makes sense for people to continue working from home to reduce contact with others.
Encouraging people to work from home where they can has helped drive down the risk of passing on coronavirus, but shops and cafes in town and city centres which rely on office workers for trade have been hit by the change in working patterns.
Mr Johnson said the intention is to change the guidance “provided we stay on track” in efforts to tackle coronavirus.
He told MPs: “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.
"It does depend on keeping the virus down.”
Downing Street would not be drawn on whether chief scientific adviser (CSA) Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer (CMO) Professor Chris Whitty back the plan.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I can’t speak for the CMO and CSA on this. The Government always set out its intention to review this guidance ahead of step four (on the road map).”
Asked what preparations are being made for civil servants to return to their desks, the spokesman said: “I think you are jumping ahead. We will set out our approach nearer the time to provide suitable preparation to all businesses and, indeed, the civil service.”
A Government scientist source said there is no reason to return to an office full-time if work can be done at home.
The source said that even last August, people were still only at about 50 per cent of pre-pandemic contact levels with others.
They added that measures this summer which could help to keep case rates in check include home working, good ventilation in buildings, and tables being kept apart.