Scotland to relax strict work from home guidance from Monday

25 January 2022, 18:51

People will be urged to return to the office.
People will be urged to return to the office. Picture: Alamy
Gina Davidson

By Gina Davidson

Scots are being told to return to their offices, after Nicola Sturgeon ditched the guidance to work from home.

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The First Minister said hybrid working can come into effect from January 31, telling MPs that the “significantly improved” Covid situation meant the changes could be made.

Speaking in Holyrood, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Instead of recommending home working whenever practical, the new guidance will pave the way for a phased return to the office.

“It will recommend that, from Monday January 31, employers should consider implementing hybrid working, following appropriate guidance, with workers spending some time in the office and some time at home.”

However, she said the change should not spark a “wholesale return to the office next week” as a mass return could “set progress back".

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And she said the Scottish Government was not yet considering ending the need for face coverings to be worn by staff and pupils in secondary schools as she revealed cases among under-15s have risen by 41 per cent.

Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, has repeatedly pushed for the face mask rules in schools to be relaxed, and again urged the First Minister to change the guidance.

He said: “Right now, adults can sit in workplaces and pubs without face masks, but pupils in the classroom are still required to wear them.

“The First Minister isn't even following public health advice on this.”

But, Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are not, at this stage, recommending any immediate change to the Reducing Risks in Schools guidance.

“However, this is being kept under close and regular review for schools and the early learning and childcare sector.

“On the issue of face coverings, I know young people want to see the back of them as soon as possible.

“But I also know that many young people understand and agree, especially when cases in the younger age group are rising, that face coverings do provide important protection.”

The relaxation of working from home guidance came after the Scottish Government eased restrictions that had been imposed in the wake of the Omicron variant on Monday.

This allowed nightclubs to open again, with bars no longer required to use table service, while meet-ups no longer need to be limited to a maximum of three households.

The latest daily figures showed Scotland recorded another 23 coronavirus-linked deaths and 8,022 new cases in the past 24 hours.

Overall reported cases have fallen by just over a quarter in the last week, to about 7,000 a day.