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Justice secretary Robert Buckland has said the government wants people to “work from home if you can” but also “come back to work”.
In an interview with ITV News on Monday morning, Buckland was asked to clarify what the government wanted workers to do.
“The guidance is work from home if you can,” the justice secretary said.
Asked again if he was certain that the guidance that people should “work from home if you can” had not changed, he said: “That’s still there. Work from home if you can, if you able to do things remotely.”
But then he added: “The message is, yes, come back to work. Talk to your employer, make your own judgement or workplace judgement, and come back in where it is safe to do so.”
The justice secretary said “increasingly” more people would go back to work in offices and other places “in a staggered way and safe way”.
Boris Johnson signalled a shift in messaging on Friday away from “stay at home” to “go back to work if you can” as large parts of the economy were reopened after months of lockdown.
The prime minister added today: “What I want to see is people now, who have been working from home for a long time now, talking to their employers about the steps that have been taken and looking to come back to work in safe way.”
Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, confirmed on Sunday that ministers wanted to “see more people back at work”.
“In some cases it’s appropriate and convenient for people to work from home but we want to make sure that where people can add value, where the economy can benefit from people being at work, that they are at work,” he told Sky News.
“We want to make sure that the economic engines of this country are fired up again.”
It comes amid growing signs the government could move to make it mandatory to wear face masks in shops in England.
The prime minister said this morning an announcement would be made “in the next few days”.
“They have a great deal of value in confined spaces where you’re coming into contact with people you don’t normally meet,” the prime minister told reporters during a visit to the London Ambulance Service.
There has been confusion over the messaging on face coverings, after Johnson said the rules needed to be “stricter”.
Michael Gove said on Sunday they would not be made compulsory. But Buckland said this morning “perhaps” they would be.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.