Phased return to offices given green light
Workers can return to offices from next week, the First Minister has confirmed.
The Scottish Government is recommending employers adopt a hybrid approach from Monday in a bid to balance the risks of the pandemic with the benefits of return.
But Nicola Sturgeon emphasised the fresh guidance would only recommend a phased return rather than “wholesale return”.
She said: “New guidance will pave the way for a phased return to the office. It will recommend that, from Monday 31 January, employers should consider implementing hybrid working – following appropriate guidance – with workers spending some time in the office and some time at home.
“We would not expect to see a wholesale return to the office next week. Indeed, given that the level of infection, though falling, remains high, a mass return at this stage is likely to set progress back."
Many of the public health restrictions brought in before Christmas in response to Omicron were dropped on Monday.
Recent data confirmed case numbers were continuing to fall from their peak earlier in the month, though the seven-day average remains at around 7,000 cases per day.
However, while case numbers have dropped in most age groups, there has been a 41 per cent rise in under 15s recording positive results.
Sturgeon said this was likely a result of a return to school, but the government would keep the numbers under review.
As a result there will be no changes to guidance in place for schools, including the requirement for secondary pupils to wear face coverings.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who previously backed dropping this requirement, urged the Scottish Government to set a date for the removal of face masks in schools.
He also expressed concerns about the government not allowing “wholesale return” to work and argued this should be a decision for staff and employers.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar again called for a framework for continued management of the pandemic, including trigger points should new variants warrant the reintroduction of restrictions.
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