Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his plans for the next stage of the recovery plans and will clarify the Government’s position on working from home. While thousands of Britons have already returned to their workplace, the Prime Minister earlier this week urged those who can to continue with their arrangements from home. But former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told Good Morning Britain Mr Johnson must send people back to the workplace in a bid to help local businesses recover from the coronavirus lockdown.
Sir Malcolm said: “I’m very, very strongly in support of the argument that people should go back to work unless they have particular personal or family reasons why that’s inappropriate.
“How can the Government hope to encourage people to go back to a sense of normality in this country if the vast majority of civil servants are not in the office where they normally work?
“Partly is setting an example and partly, also, is having very damaging impact on the economy, particularly local shops and cafés in central London and central parts of every city in the UK, where not just public servants but private employees are not in their normal place of work.”
Sir Malcolm also suggested there is an inconsistency in the Government’s strategy, noting Britons are now free to eat out but cannot work in their usual workplace.
He continued: “So there is an economic argument and I think it’s also time.
“If we are allowed to go to restaurants and cafés why not work in your normal circumstances and be with your colleagues daily.”
Mr Johnson is expected to ditch the current working from home advice which urged anyone but key workers to stay home through the lockdown.
The Prime Minister is believed to be planning to give firms more leeway over safety measures in order to get more workers back into the workplace.
“A number of companies think it’s actually not detrimental to productivity, and in that situation, there’s absolutely no reason I can see to change it.”
Sir Patrick insisted the UK should have gone into lockdown a week earlier than it did to further limit the impact of the coronavirus.
And he told MPs researches have been widely in favour of using face masks since April, appearing to make his point by wearing a face covering while waiting to answer questions from the parliamentarians.
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey this week told Tory MPs that a “fear” of commuting is “holding back the recovery” and that shops, restaurants and cafes needed returning customers.