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Gloucestershire Business News

Government changes advice on return to the office

Employers in England will be given more discretion on whether to bring staff back into the office.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the switch in government advice from August 1 as he outlined the relaxation of further coronavirus restrictions.

He said: "It is my strong and sincere hope that we will be able to review the outstanding restrictions and allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest - possibly in time for Christmas.

"Instead of government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion, and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.

He said this could mean "continuing to work from home, which is one way of working safely and which has worked for many employers and employees".

He also announced an additional £3billion of funding fo the NHS in England and a flu vaccination programme.

Saying he was "hoping for the best and planning for the worst", Mr Johnson said people may use public transport.

Local authorities will have more powers from tomorrow to shut public spaces and close down events to enable smaller lockdowns to be put in place faster.

From August 1, close-contact services such as beauticians will be allowed to reopen along with bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos.

Wedding receptions will also be able to restart for up to 30 people with the curtain going up on outdoor performances.

But soft play areas and nightclubs will remain closed.

Schools, nurseries and colleges will be open on a full-time basis from September while further changes are planned for October with plans able to return to sporting events and conferences and other events restarting in line with safety guidance.

Responding to the announcement, Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry called for help with the costs of returning to the office.

He said: "Millions of small firms are having to let staff go, cut back investment and cease hiring after months of disruption.

"Small firms are being tasked with consulting employees and putting the right measures in place to ensure a safe return to work.

"After weeks of little or no income, they will need help - both funding and advice - to make that happen. Small businesses want to do the right thing, and need support to do so."

He continued: "New powers for local authorities will need to be used sensibly, enabling policymakers to work closely with surrounding small firms to enact measures, and support, which work for specific areas.

"The Prime Minister should also recognise that - while most small businesses have been helped by emergency measures - many have not.

"We need to know how company directors and the newly self-employed, left stranded for more than 100 days, will be supported in future.

"Jobs are being lost. The Job Retention Bonus is welcome but funding from it won't manifest until next year. Small firms are having to reduce head counts now."

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