Firms ‘will be asked to bring in weekend working and staggered shift start times’ to avoid the rush hour crush when coronavirus lockdown is lifted
- The Government is said to be considering asking for more flexible working
- Shifts could be staggered through day starting at 7am, 10am and 1pm
- Tory MPs said to be restless over end to lockdown with economy in meltdown
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Firms could be asked to stagger shift start times and introduce weekend working to avoid a rush-hour surge in people travelling to work once the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
The Government is said to be considering asking for more flexible working to be introduced by firms that do not already operate it.
The current lockdown is due to run until May 7 and there are ever-stronger calls from some businesses and politicians to get the economy fired up as soon as possible.
But ministers are keen to avoid a dreaded ‘second peak’ of coronavirus deaths and have been alarmed by scenes from the London Underground of people continuing to cram into carriages to get to work.
Options being examined include shifts starting at 7am, 10am, and 1pm, according to the Mirror.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock resisted demands for more transparency about how the lockdown would be ended today.
At the daily press conference he said: ‘I understand the thirst for knowledge … of course, monitoring what is happening and making sure that we move at the right time is absolutely critical.
Crowds of commuters board a Jubilee line train at Canning Town station on the London Underground this morning
Health Secretary Matt Hancock resisted demands for more transparency about how the lockdown would be ended today
‘But the message remains the same – that people need to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
‘The reason that we have clarity on that message is that it has succeeded in bringing down and flattening the curve, but we are not through that yet and there’s an awful lot of work that still needs to be done, and we are absolutely determined to avoid a second peak.’
The possible strategy on getting London back on the move follows Mayor Sadiq Khan warning Transport for London has about a week’s worth of cash to keep itself running, and militant RMT union chiefs saying there is ‘zero chance’ of their members getting back on the buses and trains without personal protective equipment (PPE).
Tory MPs have warned the Government it must spell out in detail how it intends to ease the lockdown to give businesses hope of survival, with senior backbenchers on the 1922 Committee meeting to discuss the response.
They said it is ‘silly’ for ministers not to be totally frank with the public given how well most of the population has stuck to social distancing measures and stressed ‘there has got to be an economy to go back to’ as they sounded a warning which will be heard loud and clear in Downing Street .
This afternoon the Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance suggested there could be a two or three week difference in the progress of coronavirus across the country.
This afternoon the Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance suggested there could be a two or three week difference in the progress of coronavirus across the country
Construction employees are pictured working on a building site this morning in Lewisham, South East London
‘What we have done is really suppressed the numbers, this isn’t a natural peak, this is a suppressed peak,’ he said.
‘I think London is ahead of the rest of the country maybe by a couple of weeks but there is quite a lot of synchrony right across the country, it’s not massively different.
‘I can’t be absolutely sure about this but I think two or three weeks is the sort of order where you might expect to see some differences across the country.’
Sir Patrick said there ‘may be up to two or three weeks differences in some places – so it’s not that London is two weeks ahead of everywhere’.
‘There’s actually a lot of similarities across a number of areas, including big urban areas, and so I don’t think you should take the message at all that there is two weeks difference between London and the rest of the country.’
He said reducing lockdown measures was ‘not as straightforward as saying that because you hit the peak two weeks early you can release things two weeks early’.