Nicola Sturgeon insisted there are still concerns that the return of workers to the workplace could result in a new surge of coronavirus cases. The First Minister warned the Scottish Government must be “very mindful of the cumulative impact“ forcing people to head back to the office could have on both the transport network and the public health system. The comments came hours after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted “it is safe now” to end the work from home strategy in place since the start of the lockdown and head back to the workplace.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Our judgement so far has been, and remember I’ve said it often in the past, we have to look at individual decisions.
“But we have to be very mindful of the cumulative impact of everything we’re doing.
“The numbers involved, if we simply get back to everybody going back to offices or call centres as normal, and the pressure on our public transport system and the physical distancing would create, right now, too high a risk of the virus spreading very quickly.
“That would then compromise our route out of lockdown, perhaps take us backwards and it would also significantly compromise the ability to keep schools safely open.”
Nicola Sturgeon said 56 new coronavirus cases have been recorded in the past 24 hours
Nicola Sturgeon rejected Grant Shapp’s claim that “it is now safe” to go back to the office
The First Minister continued: “I will not countenance in Scotland any kind of narrative around this, that is almost seeking to intimidate people back to work before, as a country, we have taken the decision that is safe.
“People should not be told, ‘if you don’t get back to work in an office right now, if you’re still working from home, you might be at greater risk of being made redundant or sacked.’
“I don’t think that’s the kind of approach we want to take here. Individuals, and indeed businesses, should have the right to expect to look to Government for advice on what is safe to do and what time scales.
“That is very much the collaborative approach we’ve tried to take in Scotland and the one I will continue to try my best to lead us through.”
Nicola Sturgeon insisted people should not be forced back into the office
She added: “All of that is with the firm objective in mind of getting back to as much normality for our lives and our economy as we can, as quickly as we can but continuing to keep this virus under control. If we don’t do that, the games a boogey on everything else.”
Mr Shapps told LBC the Government’s central message has now become increasingly straightforward, saying: “We are saying to people it is now safe to return to work.”
He later added: “I think there’s a limit, just in human terms, to remote working.
“And there are things where you just need to spark off each other and get together in order to make progress.
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Grant Shapps said the Government is now calling on workers to head back to the office
“So I think common sense will prevail between employers and employees.
“It’s certainly what we’ve seen so far and I very much think that will carry on next week as people do start to return more often to the office.”
During her daily coronavirus update, the First Minister also announced no new COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours.
Over 2,490 Scots have died across the nation Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus.
Ms Sturgeon said a total of 20,107 people have so far tested positive for COVID-19 in Scotland, up by 51 from 20,056 the day before.
Two of these new cases are in the Grampian health board area, 14 in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, three in Lanarkshire and 10 in Tayside.
There are 255 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, a decrease of two in 24 hours.