Boris Johnson has told returning workers to stay safe by avoiding public transport and instead commuting by bike or on foot.
The Prime Minister tonight gave the green light for Britons to start heading back to offices from tomorrow if they are unable to work from home.
But he warned that strict social distancing measures will dramatically slash capacity on trains and buses.
Keeping two metres apart will mean public transport can only accommodate a tenth of pre-coronavirus passenger numbers.
Addressing the nation from Downing Street on the 48th day of lockdown, the PM said: ‘We want it to be safe for you to get to work.
‘So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.
‘So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.
‘And to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure.
‘And when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle.
‘But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following COVID-secure standards.’
Yet before tonight’s speech, unions said they had ‘no confidence’ in ministers to ease the lockdown safely and told members not to work if two-metre social distancing cannot be enforced.
The Prime Minister used his televised address to the nation to urge those who cannot work from home to return to offices
Public transport should be avoided and people heading back to work should walk or cycle, Boris Johnson said tonight
Mick Cash, boss of the the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said that government ‘mixed messages’ could trigger a surge in passengers and have ‘lethal consequences’.
Rail services are set to be increased from May 18, but the RMT said that has been brought forward to Monday.
In a circular to members issued after a meeting of the union’s executive (NEC) on Sunday, the union said: ‘Your NEC today considered this matter and stated our total opposition to attempts by the rail industry and Government to impose changes in working practices from Monday May 11.
‘We had only previously agreed to take part in a process to discuss such changes which had been intended to commence and be implemented from Monday May 18.
‘Given the confusion and mixed messaging generated by the Government in recent days, RMT has no confidence in the ability of the Government to manage lockdown or its easing.
‘To be clear, no agreement has been made to change any working practices or social distancing arrangements from tomorrow.
‘Therefore if two-metre social distancing cannot be maintained we consider it to be unsafe and members have the legal right to use the worksafe process.
‘RMT will fully back any member who uses this process to ensure their safety.’
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘This trade union will not sit back while confused and conflicting messaging from the Government raises the prospect of a surge in passengers on our transport services, making a mockery of the social distancing rules with potentially lethal consequences.’
Mick Cash, boss of the the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said that government ‘mixed messages’ could trigger a surge in passengers and have ‘lethal consequences’
Throughout the lockdown, Britons have largely shunned public transport, but new figures reveal the number of people walking or driving is steadily rising.
The data show an 80 per cent drop in public transport usage since the UK government imposed lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19.
And, according to data from Apple Maps, that trend looks set to continue, with only a small rise in public transport use across the UK since late-March.
But while walking and driving figures are still down by around 50 per cent over the same period, the stats show a week-on-week rise since lockdown began.
The trend is reflected in three of the country’s biggest cities, London, Birmingham, and Manchester.
It comes as Britons were warned to prepare that tubes and train services may remain at just 10 per cent capacity for months due to coronavirus.
The warning was made as government chiefs unveiled a £2billion package of measures to boost cycling and walking to work.
The number of people walking and driving across the UK is on the rise, according to data by Apple Maps
The trend is reflected in London’s figures (pictured), where use of public transport has remained largely the same since lockdown began
In the figures for Birmingham, the drop in the use of public transport is less, but has largely stayed the same
Manchester has seen a steady increase in the number of people walking and driving since lockdown began