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Gloucestershire Business News

Office staff may have to socially distance each winter

Social distancing would have to be enforced in offices for half of each year under a scenario reportedly being studied by the government.

According to The Times, Whitehall officials have told professional services companies that Covid-19's seasonal nature could mean that social distancing is only lifted in the spring and summer.

As part of a consultation for the government's social distancing review, businesses were asked what the costs of such a regime would be.

The review is looking at whether social-distancing rules can be lifted when the reopening 'road map' ends on June 21.

At present, office workers are being told to work from home where possible, while those who cannot are advised by government to socially distance.

Masks are not mandatory in offices but workers are encouraged to wear them in enclosed public spaces with people they don't normally meet.

Tamzen Isacsson, chief executive of the Management Consultancies Association, was quoted in the Financial Times as saying: "If social distancing in offices was to become a regular annual requirement this could prove to be complicated and expensive for many smaller businesses who don't have the flexibility to increase or decrease office space commitments every six months."

Mark Owen, editor of Punchline-Gloucester.com, said: "Such a proposal could have massive ramifications and it could indicate that the government was expecting to impose another lockdown next winter or that office workers may have to return to working from home."

He added: "The government has done an amazing job with the furlough and grant support schemes. But none of us know how long our vaccines are going to last. 

"If you are a small business you are not privy to what the big businesses are hearing. Therefore, the government must communicate its plans as early as possible."

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