Relaxing the 'work-from-home' guidance: what does this mean for people in the South?

The Government today (17/07) announced a new timetable for easing lockdown and said from August 1st, employers will be able to decide if staff return to the workplace, or work from home. That's as long as measures are in place - like social distancing - and it's safe to do so.

Previously over four months, the advice was to work from home if able to do so.

So what is the view of people who may now be heading back into the office? What does August the first mean for them?

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Tom Savvides:

Gemma Kane has been working from home in Ashford for four months.

The marketing manager is uneasy about returning to an office of almost 30 people. 

She feels she can do her job just as well from her dining room. 

  • Gemma Kane, Marketing manager:

This block in the centre of Brighton is home to several companies. Usually more than two hundred people would be working here. Today there are just a handful.

These offices are nearly empty and some sandwich shops are struggling for trade Credit: ITV News Meridian

That is also taking its toll on nearby coffee and sandwich shops. Many rely on the lunchtime trade of office workers to survive.

At midday, Block Bar restaurant would be busy with customers, and it's taken a real hit.

We are trading on a quarter of turnover that what we was and we can't afford to put 3 or 4 staff on which we need under the current guidelines and open on the off chance that people may come to lunch.

Ben Gill, Manager- Block Bar

It's not just eateries feeling the strain.

Some market traders in Portsmouth say they're seeing fewer people shopping during the lunch break. 

What do some market traders think?

The government believes getting people back to work will boost the economy, but ministers are leaving it to the employers to decide when to bring back their staff.

I think they will understand what the Prime Minister is trying to say but they will also want crystal clear guidance from government as well on August1st so they know exactly what they need to do to keep people safe.

Adam Marshall, Director General- Chambers of Commerce

For many, going back to work means having to take the bus or train, and from today, gone is the guidance to avoid public transport.

That means more commuters at busy stations like Reading.

Going back to work means having to take the bus or train, and from today, gone is the guidance to avoid public transport Credit: ITV News Meridian

For mothers like Sarah Banks from Southampton, the absence of breakfast and after school clubs will be problem when she goes back to work.   

  • Sarah Banks, mother:

The absence of breakfast and after school clubs is a problem for some when parents go back to work Credit: ITV News Meridian

The question is how many current home workers will venture back into the office from August the first?