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Tue, 11 August 2020

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Boris Johnson tells Brits to ‘go back to work if you can’ after months of lockdown

Boris Johnson tells Brits to ‘go back to work if you can’ after months of lockdown

Mr Johnson was quizzed by members of the public in a session of ‘People’s PMQs’. (Image: Number 10 stream)

3 min read

Boris Johnson has told the country to “go back to work if you can”, in a marked shift in the Government’s message on the coronavirus lockdown.

Existing Covid-19 guidance says people should “work from home if you can” in a bid to limit contact with people from outside their household.

But, speaking at a ‘People’s PMQs’ session on social media on Friday, the Prime Minister said those who were able to return to their place of work should now do so.

Wrapping up the hour-long grilling from members of the public on the Government’s coronavirus response, Mr Johnson said: “I think we've been, broadly speaking, very successful so far in depressing it. 

“But we have to keep going, and we have to continue to maintain the guidance, social distancing, washing our hands. And that's the way we'll get through it. 

“I do want people to start to go back to work now if you can. But remember to obey the guidance, because that is the way also to save lives.”

Earlier in the exchange, he told a questioner that people outside the ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ group should now “cautiously go back to work”.

He added: “That is the best thing. For those who are shielded, I would stress we haven’t reach that stage yet... 

“But for most people who can go back to work, my message now would be that if you can go back to work, then, provided your company’s obeying the guidelines, provided it’s safe, then you should go back to work.”

Advice on the GOV.UK website currently says people should “stay at home as much as possible” and “work from home if you can”.

But the guidance, last updated on July 9, says: “Employers should decide, in consultation with their employees, whether it is viable for them to continue working from home. 

“Where it is decided that workers should come into their place of work then this will need to be reflected in the business’s risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.”

The message from the Prime Minister comes a week after swathes of the hospitality and retail sector were given the thumbs-up to reopen, with restaurants, pubs and bars all able to serve customers again provided they have taken measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

Elsewhere in the ‘People’s PMQs’ exchange, Mr Johnson said the Government would be “very insistent” on the use of face coverings in shops and other public spaces, but appeared to rule out making them mandatory.

New rules came into force in Scotland on Friday requiring shoppers to wear masks inside stores, in addition to wearing them on public transport.

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