Tubes and trains are packed as thousands head into the office to save Britain’s economy


Tubes and trains were once again packed this morning as commuters continue to head into the office in their droves – 36 hours after Boris Johnson told Britons to get back to working from home.

Thousands of passengers boarded public transport to get back to desks for the second consecutive morning since the Prime Minister’s national address on Tuesday night.

Rolling out a new wave of restrictions and changes, Mr Johnson said those who were able to work from home should now go back to doing so, even though he has led a hard campaign of encouraging people back into towns and cities to save firms which have been put under threat during the pandemic.

His latest U-turn angered business leaders who slammed the PM for ‘spouting Churchillian nonsense’, described the six-month work from home call as ‘criminal’ as they warned billions of pounds and millions of jobs would be lost by his plans.

Despite Mr Johnson’s desk-banging performance on Tuesday, some of the county’s biggest firms declared yesterday ‘nothing had changed’ with regards to their working arrangements.

It certainly appeared business as carriages were packed out this morning, while traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on roads in Britain’s major cities. 

The rush back to the office comes ahead of the release of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s new Winter Economy Plan, which will be announced at lunchtime.

Its centrepiece is expected to be a wage subsidy scheme which will see the Government top up the pay of people who can only work part-time. 

Today will also see pubs and restaurants have to close at 10pm under the latest proposals, with owners forced to kick customers out of their premises before the cut-off point or risk a fine. 

Rules are slightly different in Wales, where pubs will not have to close bang on 10pm, but rather just stop serving alcohol at that time.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said such a plan would allow an ‘orderly close’ rather than forcing people to rapidly finish their food and drinks.

In other coronavirus news today: 

  • Experts say Chancellor has no choice but to hand businesses another coronavirus bailout when he reveals his furlough replacement plans today
  • Conflict of interest row as it emerges Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance has £600,000 of shares in vaccine maker contracted to make UK’s coronavirus jabs
  • NHS Covid-19 app won’t work on iPhone 6 or older models: Users expose iOS flaw that stops software downloading on five-year-old mobiles
  • New ‘traffic-light’ lockdown system will send automatic alerts to phones and be used to trigger local restrictions
  • Students could be told to STAY at university over Christmas to avoid spreading coronavirus around the country

Tubes and trains were once again packed this morning as commuters continue to defy Boris Johnson’s work from home orders and make their way into the office in their droves to try and save Britain’s crippled economy

Thousands of passengers boarded public transport to get back to desks for the second consecutive morning since the Prime Minister's national address on Tuesday night

Thousands of passengers boarded public transport to get back to desks for the second consecutive morning since the Prime Minister’s national address on Tuesday night

The Victoria Line on the London Underground was once again packed with passengers, despite the PM urging people to stay at home where possible

The Victoria Line on the London Underground was once again packed with passengers, despite the PM urging people to stay at home where possible

Furious Tory MPs have turned on 'authoritarian' Boris Johnson as he ordered the British public to obey his draconian new coronavirus restrictions – or face an economically devastating second national lockdown

Furious Tory MPs have turned on ‘authoritarian’ Boris Johnson as he ordered the British public to obey his draconian new coronavirus restrictions – or face an economically devastating second national lockdown 

Most of Britain’s biggest companies have already been allowing staff to split time between home and the office and leaders said yesterday their business needs meant it would continue. 

Among those still in are head offices for supermarket chains, as well as high street banks who need to have personnel in their buildings.

Asda, who last month said staff could return to its Leeds HQ, said they could still attend but had told workers not to come in unless they had to.

NatWest and RBS, who had 10,000 staff back in throughout the pandemic to help customers, are still having them in their offices to help customers.

Barclays had started to bring even more people back but were revealed yesterday to have told 1,000 of them to return to a working from home set-up.

KPMG is also understood to expect a large number of its 5,000 workers to continue working from home. 

An industry source told MailOnline: ‘Most businesses have covid-secure settings and need people in offices to be able to help their customers.

‘Nothing has changed for many after the Prime Minister’s speech.’

London: Traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on the road this morning, with congestion in fact higher than the previous week

London: Traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on the road this morning, with congestion in fact higher than the previous week

Manchester: Traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on the road this morning, with congestion in fact higher than the previous week

Manchester: Traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on the road this morning, with congestion in fact higher than the previous week

Birmingham: Traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on the road this morning, with congestion in fact higher than the previous week

Birmingham: Traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on the road this morning, with congestion in fact higher than the previous week

Leeds: London: Traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on the road this morning, with congestion in fact higher than the previous week

Leeds: London: Traffic data showed little change in the number of cars on the road this morning, with congestion in fact higher than the previous week 

Rishi ‘ready to sign blank cheque’ 

Experts have warned the UK will face ‘hefty tax rises’ by the middle of the decade to pay for the coronavirus crisis as Rishi Sunak today unveils his plans to replace furlough and stave off massive job losses over the winter.

The Chancellor will announce his new Winter Economy Plan at lunchtime and its centrepiece is expected to be a wage subsidy scheme which will see the Government top up the pay of people who can only work part-time.      

Mr Sunak’s multi-billion pound package of support is also likely to include further VAT cuts and the extension of emergency loan schemes for struggling businesses. 

The closure of the Government’s furlough scheme at the end of October has sparked dire warnings of waves of redundancies in the coming months with the Treasury due to focus its firepower on saving viable jobs rather than ‘zombie’ ones which have no future. 

Paul Johnson, the director of the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, said the scale of the coronavirus crisis means Mr Sunak is ‘still very much in blank cheque territory’ as he suggested that the UK could end the year with two million fewer jobs than it had at the start. 

But Mr Johnson warned that the Government’s spending spree will eventually have to be paid for as he predicted ‘pretty hefty tax rises’ likely by the mid-2020s.              

Official statistics published last month showed public sector debt had gone above £2 trillion for the first time in history as the Government was forced to borrow cash to keep UK plc afloat.

The Office for Budget Responsibility’s most recent forecast suggested public sector net borrowing for the financial year April 2020 to April 2021 could be anywhere between £263 billion to £391 billion. Mr Sunak’s new measures will only worsen the state of the public finances.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today reiterated that the latest support package will not be enough to save everyone from redundancy and all firms from closure as he said ‘sadly we’re not able to protect every job and every business’.  

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak will today announce a multi-billion pound package of support, which is likely to include further VAT cuts and the extension of emergency loan schemes for struggling businesses.

The closure of the Government’s furlough scheme at the end of October has sparked dire warnings of waves of redundancies in the coming months with the Treasury due to focus its firepower on saving viable jobs rather than ‘zombie’ ones which have no future.

Paul Johnson, the director of the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, said the scale of the coronavirus crisis means Mr Sunak is ‘still very much in blank cheque territory’ as he suggested that the UK could end the year with two million fewer jobs than it had at the start.

But Mr Johnson warned that the Government’s spending spree will eventually have to be paid for as he predicted ‘pretty hefty tax rises’ likely by the mid-2020s.

Official statistics published last month showed public sector debt had gone above £2 trillion for the first time in history as the Government was forced to borrow cash to keep UK plc afloat.

The Office for Budget Responsibility’s most recent forecast suggested public sector net borrowing for the financial year April 2020 to April 2021 could be anywhere between £263 billion to £391 billion. Mr Sunak’s new measures will only worsen the state of the public finances.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today reiterated that the latest support package will not be enough to save everyone from redundancy and all firms from closure as he said ‘sadly we’re not able to protect every job and every business’.

The Chancellor yesterday cancelled plans for a full-scale Budget in November, with sources saying it was ‘not the time’ for a long-term strategy.

Instead he will map out an emergency plan designed to help firms cope with new Covid restrictions which Boris Johnson has warned will last for six months.

Whitehall sources last night said the Chancellor’s plans would include a new wage subsidy scheme modelled on a German initiative that helps fund salaries at firms where there is only enough work to go back part-time.

Government officials are looking at whether the state can help cover the costs for staff able to do 50 to 60 percent of their normal hours, according to the Financial Times, which would be considerably cheaper to run than the furlough scheme that has cost almost £4 billion in the last four weeks.

By comparison, the German kurzarbeit (short- working) model would cost around £500 million a month.

The so-called ‘flexible furlough’ scheme would allow for companies to hack back workers’ hours while keeping them on their books, with the Government making up the difference but with a cap for salaries up to around £30,000, according to the Sun.

Ministers are also looking at a bailout scheme for struggling sports clubs hit by a ban on crowds. This year’s VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism industry to 5 percent, which has cost £4 billion, was due to last until January but will now run until the end of March, The Times reported.

The Government’s furlough scheme has helped support almost 10 million jobs during the crisis, covering up to 80 per cent of an employee’s wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

It is now in the process of being wound down and will formally close at the end of next month after racking up a bill of more than £39 billion.

Mr Sunak has faced pressure to extend the scheme but he is expected to press ahead with scrapping it and will use the wage subsidy scheme to pick up some of the slack.

Mr Johnson said the end of furlough means there will be a ‘big rise in unemployment’ in the coming months.

The Office for National Statistics revealed last that public sector debt was now above £2 trillion for the first time ever with Mr Sunak's proposals today likely to worsen the picture

The Office for National Statistics revealed last that public sector debt was now above £2 trillion for the first time ever with Mr Sunak’s proposals today likely to worsen the picture

Critics lay bare the cost of Boris Johnson’s six-month covid clampdown 

The horrifying cost of Boris Johnson’s six-month Covid clampdown was dramatically laid bare last night.

Business chiefs and hospitality groups issued a string of dire warnings over the impact of the restrictions, saying millions of jobs were now on the line.

They said the Prime Minister’s U-turn on his ‘get back to work’ message could spell doom for struggling high streets, with footfall plummeting and shops boarded up.

In a passionate intervention, a prominent entrepreneur said the prosperity of the nation was at stake.

Julian Metcalfe, who founded Pret A Manger and Itsu, said: ‘The repercussions of this six months are going to be devastating to so many, to local councils, to industry, to people all over our country.

‘We have not begun to touch the seriousness of this. This talk of six months is criminal.’

The City of London Corporation said yesterday the government needed to find a way to deal with coronavirus that ‘Doesn’t cripple the economy’, while Pret founder Julian Metcalfe described the PM’s speech as a ‘man sitting down with his Union Jack talking utter nonsense’.

In a further furious broadside he slated his ‘exaggerated nonsense’ before adding he feared Mr Johnson’s plans would see millions of jobs lost.

It comes as another 6,178 cases of coronavirus were recorded on Wednesday and government data showed the outbreak has risen by 37 percent in the last week.

Mr Metcalfe’s barbs for the PM are a far cry from their previously cosy relationship when Mr Johnson, then Mayor of London, appointed the Pret boss as leader of his taskforce for Croydon following riots there nine years ago. 

Last night saw Brits head out in their masses for one final late night before the new coronavirus measures come into play. 

The Prime Minister has ordered pubs and restaurants to stop serving at 10pm from tiday, considerably earlier than most establishments across the country. 

And owners will be forced to kick customers out of their premises before the cut-off point or risk a fine. 

The new measures, which also outlaw customers from ordering drinks at a bar, will come into full effect as of this evening.  

The impact of the regulations is already proving significant with Monday’s Premier League fixture between Liverpool and Arsenal now kicking off at 8pm, rather than the initial plan of 8.15pm, which would have likely seen punters kicked out of pubs before the end of the game. 

But across Britain, revellers took advantage of their last night of freedom as they stepped out in full force up and down the country, with many expressing frustration on social media that this was likely to be their last post-10pm pint until spring next year. 

Fun-seekers flouted social-distancing rules while mingling outside pubs and bars and even heavy rain in the north west of the UK didn’t stop partygoers from enjoying their last night out. 

Women were seen sporting their glad rags while some men donned smart suits and others hooded sweatshirts to combat the downpour. 

Some were seen desperately trying to protect their finery by holding jackets and blazers of their heads while others huddled together in large groups to stay out of the wet. 

Revellers in Leeds, London, Lancaster and Middlesborough were seen taking full advantage of the last night of normal opening hours as they nursed drinks throughout the evening. 

Meanwhile on social media, scores of people posted pictures of their drinks, bemoaning the fact it was likely to be their last in a pub for six months. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk