Businesses demand guidelines

Workers may stagger start times to avoid crowding

Glasgow station and ScotRail

Commuters may have to stagger journeys (pic: Terry Murden)

UK Transport secretary Grant Shapps said today that businesses could be asked to stagger employees’ working hours to help prevent crowding on public transport as businesses return to work.

Trains, buses and transport interchanges could also be equipped with hand sanitiser, as hand-washing remained more important than wearing face masks, he said.

He ruled out temperature checks for people using public transport, saying that if anyone had a temperature they should be at home and not travelling at all.

Sources also expect companies to accept new ‘risk assessment’ guidance before allowing employees to return to work, and that this will include a halt to hot-desking and sharing office equipment, closure of canteens and limits on how many should use lifts at one time.

The latest thinking by government comes as UK ministers were urged to “be bold” and immediately set out plans for a “carefully phased” lifting of the coronavirus lockdown.

Grant Shapps: ruled out temperature checks

Mr Shapps also joined calls for a compulsory 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving in the country, suggested by Daily Business on 10 April, and which has been adopted by other countries.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airline UK, which represents a number of airlines, said a quarantine would “would effectively kill air travel”.

He said it would “completely shut off the UK from the rest of the world when other countries are opening up their economies” and described the possible quarantine measure as a “blunt tool”.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the imminent publication of guidance from the government about the safe return to work must include mass testing and contact tracing.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, BCC president Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith said planning and communication of the government’s approach to leaving lockdown “must begin immediately if we are to harness the public health and economic benefits”.

“Fundamental prerequisites to beginning this journey include mass testing and contact tracing,” she said.

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Some of Britain’s big construction firms are preparing for a resumption of work at building sites in England from Monday, insisting they have put sufficient health and safety measures in place.

Boris Johnson has said he will outline plans relating to schools, commuting and the workplace in the coming week.

But the PM stressed the UK must not “risk a second spike” in infections. His view have been backed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, although the Scottish government continues to take a hard line on construction sites which must remain closed in Scotland except for essential work.

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