Call for Britons to return to desks is paused until next week

A public information campaign urging people in Britain to get back to work following the coronavirus lockdown has had its first air date pushed back.

The series of adverts encouraging people to return to offices was originally due to begin tomorrow, but it will not now start until next week at the earliest.

The UK campaign is yet to have been given a slogan because Downing Street officials are still divided on how strong the encouragement should be.

A small number of people use the escalators at Canary Wharf Underground station today

A small number of people use the escalators at Canary Wharf Underground station today

An empty platform at Canary Wharf Underground station in East London this morning

An empty platform at Canary Wharf Underground station in East London this morning

The move suggests the Cabinet Office wanted more civil servants back to their desks before urging the rest of the country to return, reported the Daily Telegraph.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to want wants Parliament 'back to normal' by the end of 2020, urging MPs to lead from the front on the return to workplaces.

Mr Johnson spoke to Conservative backbenchers of the importance of returning to workplaces as the UK seeks to strike a balance between public and economic health.

Downing Street fears huge job losses in town and city centre shops and cafes if workers do not return to their pre-lockdown commuter patterns.

Hardly anyone is to be seen on the platform at Canary Wharf Underground station this morning

Hardly anyone is to be seen on the platform at Canary Wharf Underground station this morning

A near-empty platform at Canary Wharf Underground station in London this morning

A near-empty platform at Canary Wharf Underground station in London this morning

But there are allegedly divisions in Government over whether the time is right, with the Covid-19 rate still growing in parts of the UK, to get employees back into work.

Flexible season tickets plan for commuters 

Rail companies are set to offer flexible season tickets to encourage more workers to get back to offices, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister told MPs the Government was working with rail firms to provide tickets for those who will not be in the office five days a week.

Many offices will not be able to accommodate all their workers at the same time because of social distancing.

One idea mooted for flexible season tickets is that they could be bought to cover three days instead of a full week.

At Prime Minister's Questions Tory MP Damian Green urged Mr Johnson 'to encourage the rail industry to introduce flexible season tickets immediately' to help office staff return.

The Prime Minister replied that the Government was working with firms on tickets that would 'enable people to get back to work in a flexible way'.

 

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Yesterday, the Bank of England told MPs the Government's Covid-safe guidelines for employers meant it was unlikely offices could get back up to full capacity.

This is due to the need for staff to be kept apart, with workplace advice including introducing one-way systems and staggered shift times.

Employers are also advised to limit the number of colleagues that staff members are exposed to in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Alex Brazier, the bank's executive director for risk, told the Commons Treasury Committee: 'Because of those constraints I don't think we can expect to see a sudden and sharp return of lots of people to the very dense office environments that we were used to.

'We should expect a more phased return depending on the public health outcomes that we'll see over the coming weeks and months.' 

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