LONDON – Back to the office? Not so fast

The Bank of England has cast doubt on the government drive led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to get workers back to offices, warning that normal office life in central London and other big cities cannot resume while risks from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ministers say that the sectors of the UK economy built around city workers, including office space and restaurants rely on people return to office life en masse, and have been publicly urging people to return to the offices. The Office of National Statistics has estimated that around 40% of Britons are working from home.

“With Covid safe guidelines, it’s not possible to use office space – particularly in central London and dense places like that – with the intensity that we used to use it. So it’s actually not possible to bring lots of people back very suddenly,” Alex Brazier, the Bank’s executive director for financial stability strategy and risk, told MPs on the Treasury committee on Wednesday (2 September).

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