Government mulls Christmas work from home order

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Government mulls Christmas work from home order

Related tags: Coronavirus, Scotland, Wales, Northern ireland

Work from home plans are being drafted by the Government as Boris Johnson considers bringing in tougher measures to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant.

According to The Telegraph​,​officials working on Covid policy have carried out modelling on the economic impact of urging people to work from home over the Christmas and New Year period. 

This follows Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, urging companies to tell employees to work from home if possible until mid-January.

Johnson told ministers there were ‘early indications’ that the Omicron variant was spreading quicker than delta. 

Part of the Government's 'Plan B', a working from home order would have disastrous consequences for Christmas trade across the board, but especially businesses in city centres. 

CEO of KERB Food and Seven Dials Market Simon Mitchell took to Twitter late last month to warn the Government - and Labour, which is pushing for Plan B - that working from home would "decimate every hospitality business in every city centre".

The tweet continued:​ "Working from home means no customers Are you happy to destroy hospitality and those employed in it?"  

The hospitality sector has already been badly hit by mixed Government messages around what employers and the public should do in the face of the new variant.

Christmas party bookings and other group dining reservations are being cancelled​ and some operators are reporting that footfall has dropped considerably​ since the Government reintroduced mandatory mask wearing in some settings. 

The Telegraph​ is also reporting a Cabinet split over whether to mandate 'vaccine passports'. 

England does not currently have such a scheme in place, but 'vaccine passports' are in use in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in some settings including nightclubs and large events. 

There were fears​that Scotland would expand vaccine passports to restaurant and pub settings last month. However, it was eventually decided that at the time it would not have been proportionate​ to do so.

As things stand, it seems unlikely that Westminster would introduce a 'vaccine passport' scheme that is harsher than those already in place within the devolved administrations. 

Johnson has previously said a review of the current rules will be held late next week, when it is thought more will be known about whether Omicron is resistant to existing vaccines.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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