James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
End of WFH hailed as tens of thousands of commuters head back to the office
20 January 2022, 10:45 | Updated: 20 January 2022, 11:35
Commuters in England were heading back into offices in their thousands today after Boris Johnson decided to scrap work from home guidance with immediate effect.
The Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons on Wednesday that work-from-home guidance would be dropped immediately and rules on face coverings in classrooms would also be scrapped in England from Thursday.
Tube services were busier than seen previously in the pandemic and traffic on key routes in and around London was building up during the morning rush hour. Paddington railway station in west London was also busy on Thursday morning.
TfL said commuting on the Tube his morning was up by 8 per cent and bus use was up by 3 per cent.
Lord Stuart Rose, the new chairman of Asda this morning hailed the decision to scrap working from home guidance in England, telling LBC he could not believe there was a "nation sitting at home" fearful of coronavirus.
Figures published by location technology firm TomTom show the level of road congestion at 8am in London and Manchester was higher than at the same time last week, but was relatively stable in several other major English cities.
In London, congestion levels increased from 66% on January 13 to 72% today. In Manchester, congestion levels rose from 56% on January 13 to 63% today. In Birmingham, congestion levels dropped from 57% on January 13 to 55% today, and in Leeds, congestion levels fell from 48% on January 13 to 44% today.
The requirement for mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports will also both be ditched from next Thursday as Plan B is lifted.
One major advertising firm said it would be "fully reopening" its London office from Monday. Insurer Zurich, which employs 4,500 people in the UK, also said it was "excited" to welcome staff back to its offices but that hybrid working would continue.
The British Chambers of Commerce has urged the government to improve access to rapid testing so firms could bring staff back to workplaces with confidence.
The City Pub Group said it expected "consumer confidence and consequently demand" would continue to build once office workers return to work.
Boris Johnson announced the end of Plan B measures as he faced intense pressure over Downing Street parties.