POLITICS
11/05/2020 10:18 BST | Updated 12/05/2020 11:25 BST

Now Government Says Don't Return To Work Until Wednesday As Lockdown Message Causes More Confusion

The foreign secretary and prime minister deliver different messages as government moves to begin easing coronavirus lockdown.

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Dominic Raab has said people should not feel they must return to work until Wednesday, despite Boris Johnson having indicated it should be “actively encouraged” from Monday.

In his speech to the nation on Sunday evening, the prime minister said people who cannot work from home, such as those in the construction industry, should return “now”.

The short notice led to warnings millions of people would be confused as to what they would be expected to do and when.

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said Johnson appeared to be “effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety”.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said it had caused “anxiety” for workers.

“How can the prime minister – with 12 hours’ notice – tell people they should be going back to sites and factories? It’s a recipe for chaos,” she said.

Ahead of Johnson’s announcement, the government had said Sunday’s speech would include information that Brits would use to make changes to their lives from the next day.

But speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme this morning, Raab appeared to change course, saying the changes to the advice on who should go to work “will take effect from Wednesday”.

There was no mention of this by Johnson on Sunday.

The PM had said only: “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.”

The surprise announcement is likely to have left many scrambling to return to work on Monday morning.

But Johnson also said anyone travelling to work should “avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited”.

He concluded: “So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”

Johnson will provide more detailed plans to gradually ease the coronavirus lockdown in a statement to parliament later today, as official figures suggested the UK death toll has passed 36,800.

His speech last night has been accused of creating confusion.