Londoners divided about easing of plan B as they return to office after Omicron wave

Londoners divided about easing of plan B as they return to office after Omicron wave
Workers have been encouraged to return to the office

Londoners have been left divided following the easing of Covid measures, which have ended work-from-home guidance and will bring an end to mandatory face masks in shops and on public transport.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said we must “learn to live with” Covid, telling Sky News on Thursday that the virus will be with us for “many, many years – perhaps forever”.

As Londoners returned to the office this morning some were still “confused” by the easing of the guidelines amid concerning hospital admission numbers and Covid-related deaths.

“It’s a bit confusing, I’d like to see hospital admissions go down a bit more before people go back to the office,” fire safety consultant Andy Plester, 54, said at Paddington station on his way to assess an office.

He added: “I think we should be looking to work from home at least one week out of the month, people have shown they can do it and it’s good for the environment.”

Andy Plester believes people should continue working at home until hospital admissions decline further and to help the environment

Yesterday the UK recorded 108,069 Covid cases and 359 deaths. Additionally, over 1,500 people a day are still being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

Childcare worker Charlotte Bridgett, 22, called the new looser measures “ridiculous”, lamenting constant changes to restrictions around mask-wearing that she believes haven’t been effective in places like supermarkets.

Some Londoners, however, welcomed the end of work-from-home guidance. Finance worker Anders Strandh, 48, on his way to a work conference in Oxford, said: “It’s better working from the office, I like the social element.

“People are more open now to doing both though so I think there will be more of a mixture going forward.”

Henry B, also a finance worker, echoed Mr Strandh’s position: “I much prefer working from the office there’s a lot to be said about collaboration.” He also backed the decision to axe face masks in shops and public transport.

“I don’t mind wearing a mask, it doesn’t bother me. If it makes other people feel more comfortable that’s a good thing to do, but I think there are people a lot smarter than me making decisions, they’ve got data to back it up. I’m not an anti-vaxxer but if there’s medication out there dealing with it that’s the most important thing,” Henry said.

Anders Strandh said he preferred working from the office because of the ‘social element’

Sustainability worker Dora Martinez said she wants to return to the office but worries her company won’t allow it. “I’m happy we can go back to the office, I really would like to go back but my company is not willing to, most of my work requires talking to people and networking so for me it makes sense to go back to the office although I’m conscious that Covid is around.”

In a push for further easing of restriction this year, the government hopes to see the legal requirement for people with coronavirus to self-isolate scrapped when regulations expire on 24 March.

Asked whether self-isolation rules would be scrapped in March, Mr Javid added: “We are not there yet –that’s a few weeks away. We’ve said we would review those rules and we would like to see it scrapped by the end of March but that decision will be made closer to the time.”