Coronavirus: Work from home ‘if you can’, Michael Gove says

People in England should work from home “if they can” to reduce social mixing and slow the spread of the virus, Michael Gove has said.

And plans to have spectators at sports fixtures would “pause”, the Cabinet Office Minister told BBC Breakfast.

It comes as pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England are told they must have a 22:00 closing time from Thursday.

Full details will be set out by the prime minister in Parliament later.

Boris Johnson met the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and will address the nation in a live broadcast at 20:00 BST on Tuesday.

As well as the early closing time for hospitality venues, he is expected to announce they will be restricted by law to table service only.

In July, the prime minister said people should “start to go back to work now if you can” and last month the government launched a campaign to encourage workers back to offices.

Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are stressing that if it is safe to work in your workplace, if you are in a Covid-secure workplace, then you should be there if your job requires it.

“But, if you can work from home you should.”

Asked if that was a change in advice, Mr Gove said: “Yes.”

The new message brings England into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have all advised people to work from home wherever possible throughout the pandemic.

But Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast the country was “not going back to the sorts of measures that we had in the spring” when strict measures were imposed.

Plans for sport with live audiences to return from 1 October in England were also being halted “for the moment” because of the risk of fans mixing on the way to the stadium or during half-time, Mr Gove added.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said a second national lockdown would be “a sign of government failure, not an act of God”.

“It would take an immense toll on people’s physical and mental health and on the economy. We need a national effort to prevent a national lockdown,” he told the Labour Party conference, which is taking place virtually.

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