Boris Johnson today ordered people to “go back to work” as he accused some of “loving” the coronavirus lockdown.
For nearly four months official government advice has told the public to work from home if they can.
But, during a 45-minute “People’s PMQs ” session streamed “as live” on social media, the Prime Minister dramatically switched the guidance.
“I do want people to start to go back to work now if you can,” he said.
“I want people to go back to work as carefully as possible.
“It’s very important that people should be going back to work if they can now.
“I think everybody has sort of taken the ‘stay at home if you can’.
“I think we should now say, well, ‘Go back to work if you can’, because I think it’s very important that people should try to lead their lives more normally.
“I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants, and get back into work – but only if we all follow the guidance.
“Millions of the workforce began working from home in March after the PM ordered the Covid-19 lockdown.
The move helped curb the spread of the virus but officials have become increasingly concerned at how popular working from has become.
It led to a huge fall in revenue on public transport, triggering fears for the future of some transport firms.
And with people not buying lunchtime sandwiches or going for a pint after work, the hospitality industry’s recovery could be delayed.
Speaking via video link from Downing Street, Mr Johnson claimed while some “suffered”, others enjoyed the lockdown.
The PM said “I do think that people have suffered” during lockdown.
But he added: “Some people have loved it – I mean, let’s be honest, some people have actually loved it.
“But some people have really found it tough in lockdown.”
Mr Johnson also revealed the Government was looking at introducing stricter rules on wearing face coverings.
“As we get the numbers down in the way that we have and we really stamp out outbreaks in the way that we are, I do think we need to be stricter in insisting that people wear face coverings in confined places where they are meeting people that they don’t normally meet,” he said.
“That’s why its mandatory already on public transport and we are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops, for instance, where there is a risk of transmission.”
“I don’t think that is medically indicated, actually,” he said.
“But the balance of scientific opinion seems to have shifted more in favour of them than it was, and we are very keen to follow that.”
He went on: “We increasingly think that we have got to be very insistent on confined places where you are meeting people that you don’t normally come into contact with – transport, shops – wear a face covering.”