The order to work from home by the Government may be kept in place beyond June 21 if coronavirus cases continue to surge, it has been claimed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains adamant he sees no issue in the increasingly worrying infection rate to postpone the end of lockdown later this month.
It would see all constraints lifted, including limits on the amount of people attending events, as well as social distancing and mask wearing.
But officials are said to examining the possibility of retaining ‘work from home’ guidance – in place since March 23 last year – if Covid hospitalisations and deaths begin to rise.
It comes after Boris Johnson yesterday axed holiday favourite Portugal from the green list in an effort to safeguard the final steps of his road map to freedom three weeks after adding it.
The PM – who first laid out plans for easing restrictions in February – will make his final decision a week prior to June 21, so that the most up to date figures can be assessed – particularly the situation with new variants.
The vaccination programme has already seen three quarters of adults in the UK having had at least one dose, with Downing Street promising everyone over 50 will have been offered both within the next two-and-a-half weeks.
And it is hoped jabs have finally broken the link between increasing infections and a rise in deaths and hospitalisations.
Many office-based businesses have adapted easily to WFH and plan to offer employees the choice of how they wish to work in future.
As such, it is considered the least damaging restriction to keep in place, according to reports.
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Government sources told the Telegraph : “Obviously working from home does have some consequences, but there’s no difference between now and two weeks’ time because the economic support will still be in place.
“There’s not that imperative to change the advice.”
Earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock had already implied working from home and face masks could remain beyond June 21.
SAGE member Professor John Edmonds said yesterday retaining the WFH order is “one of the biggest levers” the Government could pull in preventing further spread of the virus, as it has “significantly reduced” contact among adults.
Last week, he had urged ministers to postpone the final lifting of measures, with research showing the number of daily contacts had doubled since England came out of lockdown.
The UK recorded 5,274 new Covid cases on Thursday, the highest number of daily infections since March.
There have also been another 18 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 127,812.