Civil servants ordered back to work after Covid restrictions lifted in England | Coronavirus
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Civil servants have been ordered back to office, with government services urged to quickly return to ‘full occupancy’ after Plan B Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in England.
But Friday night’s announcement sets up a clash between the government and unions, which have warned of a “headlong rush” to workplaces with still high coronavirus cases. Across the UK, 95,787 positive tests were reported on Friday.
No date was provided for the return, but Steve Barclay, Cabinet Secretary and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said it was important to maximize the use of office space from next week.
“Now that we are learning to live with Covid and have lifted Plan B measures, we need to move away from reliance on video meetings and back to the benefits of face-to-face collaborative working,” said Barclay.
He is expected to raise the issue in cabinet next week and urged ministers to ensure their offices are operating at full capacity as soon as possible, the Cabinet Office said in a statement.
Barclay’s call for government departments to allow a return to full capacity was echoed by Alex Chisholm, Cabinet Office permanent secretary and civil service chief operating officer, who wrote to Whitehall leaders asking them to support significant and rapid feedback from staff. at the workplace.
The government’s move, which is also aimed at boosting footfall in city centres, comes as businesses slowly return to office. The London Underground network recorded 8% more journeys on Thursday compared to a week earlier.
Companies providing flexible office space said they were already seeing an increase in demand as businesses and their staff returned to offices in greater numbers and adopted hybrid work models.