Hucknall and wider Ashfield workers still heading to the office despite new Government work at home advice

New data from Google reveals Ashfield workers continued to go out to work after the Government issued new guidance on home-working in the wake of the surge in cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

By Patrick Jack
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 7:00 am

Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced new coronavirus restrictions – including advising those who can work from home to do so – from December 13.

Google uses location data from phones and other personal devices to track trends in people's movement in different areas of their daily lives, including where they work.

The most recent figures show activity in workplaces in the working week to December 17.

New Government guidance advises people to work from home when they can but many Ashfield workers seem to have chosen to stay in the office

And while the figures show activity in workplaces in Ashfield in that week to December 17 was 23 per cent lower than the pre-pandemic baseline, it was unchanged from the five days previously to December 10, bucking the national trend.

Activity in workplaces across the UK was 29.6 per cent below normal in the most recent week's data – the lowest level since the end of October.

The Plan B measures for England include the wider wearing of face masks, the mandatory use of Covid passes for access to large venues, and a return to working from home.

The Institute of Directors said this has had an impact on business, and led to a drop in consumer demand at the "worst possible time" for some parts of the economy.

When the new guidance was issued, the Confederation of British Industry said the Government was right to advise those who can work from home to do so – but this should be reversed as soon as it is safe.

A CBI spokesman said home-working brings significant economic cost by restricting trade for some businesses and impacting mental health.

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He said: “Some economic activity is displaced to local areas, but it also leaves our town and city centres under real strain for retailers and hospitality.

“With the push for a booster rollout by the end of the year, the Government should use the January 5 review to identify a new regime drawing on testing, Covid-secure workplaces and antivirals, to outline its intention for ending the push to work from home."

The Google figures also suggest people across the UK were using public transport less last week.

Average activity in travel hubs such as bus and trains stations was 33.2 per cent below normal in the week ending December 17 – the lowest it has been since the end of August.

In Ashfield, it was 14.8 per cent below normal at this time – up from 16.6 per cent below the week before.

A Government spokesman said: “We’ve supported people’s jobs and incomes throughout the pandemic through our £400 billion package of support and will continue to do so through our additional £1bn support package.

“We will continue to look closely at all emerging evidence and keep our measures under review as we learn more about this variant.”