Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that those in sectors such as manufacturing and construction who cannot work from home should return to work.
In his address to the nation yesterday, he said: “We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must.
“We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.
“And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.
“So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home. And to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces Covid-secure.
“And when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle. But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following Covid-secure standards."
He added that he would set out more details in Parliament later today and taking questions from the public in the evening.
Workplace leaders urged for greater guidance and warned against people going back to work unless it was safe.
Melanie Leech, chief executive, British Property Federation, said: “We urgently need the government to publish the detail in its back-to-work papers and what public health guidance will apply as more people return to their places of work and have more freedom to enjoy public spaces.
“The overwhelming priority is to make sure that people are safe, but businesses will need time to prepare for and apply this guidance. As property owners and managers we have a critical role to play and we will work with our tenants in offices, warehouses and shops to support them and to make sure that the public spaces we are responsible for are safely managed.”
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The government has set out a gradual approach to bring the UK out of the current lockdown, carefully monitoring the impact at each stage. This is essential for avoiding a disastrous second peak that could overwhelm our NHS.”"
He added: “I urge the government to continue to work with employers, employees and trades unions to design a proper plan for how we can keep everyone safe as they return to work.”
Ben Stepney at law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore said: “The PM is clear. Those who cannot work from home are urged to return to work. And employers need to adapt their workplaces to make them Covid-secure.
“Updated guidance for employers in various sectors is expected to be released early this week.
“Employers will need to assess the risk of the virus being caught and spread in the workplace and consider how that risk can be mitigated. This exercise must be recorded in a risk assessment, which will record the extent to which the employer thinks social distancing can be practised in its workplace.”
Stepney added that based on current practice and the draft guidance, common measures will include:
• having split teams attending the workplace on different days/weeks;
• closing or restricting access to common areas, such as kitchens;
• limiting the sharing of desks and equipment; and
• staggered start and finish times to avoid congregation at entrances.