PUBLIC sector workers need to return to the office to save shops and pubs in deserted city centres, it was claimed today.
Office workers are expected to work from home until next summer – meaning cafes and outlets face almost another 12 months without customers.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Just this week, it was revealed popular cafe chain Pret A Manget can only pay a third of its rent after the lockdown hit sales.
And experts have predicted 20,000 stores will close this year in a further blow to the already struggling high street.
Now the civil service is being urged to bring workers back into the office to help boost the economy.
Theresa Villiers, the former Conservative cabinet minister, told The Times: "The government should lead by example and ensure many more civil servants return to Whitehall. Thousands of shops and small businesses in our city centres depend on people heading back to their workplace. Let’s get on with it."
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents black-cab drivers, added fears of an "economic meltdown".
He said: "It’s not just taxi drivers, but shops, cafes and everything else. No people at work, means no customers."
The government's current advice is that Brits should work home "if you can".
And a recent survey by accountancy firm KPMG found that 73 per cent of staff were happy to continue working from home until the year of the year.
This means that while non-essential shops including cafes, pubs and bars will be able to open from July 4, the normal stream of commuters may not be there for stores.
Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said: "The vibrancy of Manchester city centre depends on its office workers and we want to support shops, restaurants and other local businesses."
The pandemic has so far seen the collapse of Cath Kidston and Laura Ashley, while Debenhams has also been forced to call in administrators for the second time in 12 months.
Oasis and Warehouse have also turned into online only retailers after being snapped up by Boohoo.com.
The Cabinet Office said: "Like employers across the UK, the civil service will continue to follow the latest government guidance to keep staff healthy and safe in any further return to workplaces."
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW
Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.
To receive The Sun’s Coronavirus newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.
To follow us on Facebook, simply ‘Like’ our Coronavirus page.
Get Britain’s best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.
Source: Read Full Article