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28 Aug 2020 | 10:18

Grant Shapps reassures workers it's safe to go back to offices in England

(Sharecast News) - UK transport secretary Grant Shapps reassured workers in England that it is safe to go back to their workplaces as the government attempts to boost city centre business. The UK government is prepared to launch a publicity drive to persuade the public to return to the office due to concerns about the prospects for city centre businesses if more office workers fail to return to their workplaces.

The Cabinet Office will take out ads in regional newspapers after schoolchildren in England return to the classroom next week.

The government will also release advice for employers about how to make their offices Covid-secure.

Speaking on Sky News, Shapps said: "What we're saying to people is it is now safe to go back to work and your employer should have made arrangements which are appropriate to make sure that it is coronavirus-safe to work and you will see some changes if you haven't been in for a bit as a result."

"The vast majority of employers just want to get their businesses back up and running, they want to do the right thing, and many will have found that actually home working can work for some of their employees."

But he added: "I think there's a limit, just in human terms, to remote working. And there are things where you just need to spark off each other and get together in order to make progress. So I think common sense will prevail between employers and employees."

The CBI's director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, warned that city centres could become "ghost towns" if workers continue to remain home. Retailers have already been forced to shut down some of their restaurants in what used to be busy city high streets.

The latest example comes from Pret A Manger, which said on Thursday that it would cut nearly 2,900 jobs as the lockdown across the country sent sales plummeting.
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