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Boris Johnson to urge Britons to return to the office as lockdown fears ease

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reportedly use his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester to urge employees to return to their workplaces

The PM “believes very strongly in the value of face-to-face working”, a source says

Boris Johnson is expected to urge Britons to return to the office amid growing confidence that coronavirus will not lead to further lockdowns this winter.

The Prime Minister will use his speech at the Tory conference in Manchester today to encourage office workers to return to their desks.

A government source told the Daily Mail that Mr Johnson “believes very strongly in the value of face-to-face working”, particularly for younger employees.

“It is critical for the training and development of young people. How can you learn a new job on Zoom?” the source continued.

Ministers were forced to reinstate the work-from-home order last autumn just weeks after ordering employees back to the office, following a rise in Covid cases.



The Prime Minister will encourage office workers to return to their desks
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Image:

PA)




The PM’s scientific advisers have pushed him not to repeat the same message this year, as working from home is one of the most effective ways of slowing the spread of the virus.

Instead, the government has stopped short of publicly encouraging workers back to the office, leaving it up to employers to encourage a “gradual return to the workplace”.

Many employees in the public and private sector are continuing to work remotely.

Ministers are reportedly confident that they will not have to issue another work-from-home order this winter.







A second source said: “You can never rule anything out with Covid. But we are now in early October and hospitalisations are still running at manageable levels.

“We are not at the point of anyone thinking about Plan B,” they said, referring to the government’s contingency plans this winter should cases spike.

They continued: “Even if we get to that point, it would start with things that cause relatively little disruption, such as mandatory masks and Covid certification.”

Last month, Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s scientific advisory board SAGE and epidemiologist at University College London, said remote working would make “a significant difference to transmission if we get into trouble”.



The PM’s scientific advisers have said that working from home is one of the most effective ways of slowing the spread of the virus
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Speaking on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “The most important and effective way of reducing spread of the virus is not to be in contact with other people.”

Covid-19 cases remain high with 35,077 new cases reported on Monday and a further 33 deaths.

It marked the 15th day in a row that case numbers topped 30,000 and compares to 30,439 reported on Sunday.

Despite this, Tory MPs have claimed it is imperative that workers returned to the office. Speaking at a fringe event during the part conference, former cabinet minister Jake Berry urged civil servants to go back to their desks.







He said: “We have to end the Civil Service ‘woke-ing’ from home – sorry, I mean working from home, but, let’s be honest, it often is woke-ing.”

Asked about Mr Berry’s comments, the PM’s official spokesperson defended the civil service but emphasised the importance of “working in person”.

Civil servants “have been able to deliver for the public whilst working from home”, they said, adding: “That said, as the prime minister has said repeatedly, there are significant benefits to being in work, to office working, and those should not be discounted.

“That’s why we are encouraging all employers to start steadily bringing in their workforce, as we are at this stage of the epidemic.”

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel is reportedly expected to announce new plans to stop eco-warriors Insulate Britain from blocking motorways.

And Justice Secretary Dominic Raab will reportedly unveil a deal to make criminals in “chain gangs” to clear rubbish from waterways.


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