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Travel bosses vow to defy Plan B working from home advice

Some travel firms are set to defy Boris Johnson’s work from home advice under revised pre-Christmas Plan B Covid restrictions.

And transport and travel union TSSA called on the government to reintroduce the furlough job retention scheme in reaction to new Covid advice being brought in to combat the Omicron variant.

Measures announced by the prime minister on Wednesday evening include asking people to work from home where possible from Monday.

Health secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons that advice was being updated to say “that only people who cannot work from home should continue to go into their workplace”.

However, Martin Johnson co-founder of Latin Routes and Polar Routes and vice chair of the Latin America Travel Association, vowed to ignore the work from home guidance, saying: “Literally had enough now, the world needs to move on.”

 

He tweeted: “Our staff will have the choice to work where they feel comfortable, but I will not be instructing them to work from home.

“We have to live with the virus and I will not be taking any further instructions from this government.”

Sunvil managing director Chris Wright responded by saying: “I have said exactly the same.”

Rush Insurance founder Jeff Rush tweeted: “I’ve issued the same directive to my team too.”

The stance by Martin Johnson was also applauded by Cosmos boss Giles Hawke.

Travel agent Scott Harrison tweeted: “Waiting for Rishi Sunak to make announcements of grants and other help for nightclubs etc whilst the travel sector, which was the first industry affected by restrictions, will be left out in the cold sending more businesses to the scrap heap and more of its workers to the dole queue.”

Iata director general Willie Walsh reportedly told a media briefing that he has “given up trying to understand the UK government” over its travel policy and the Omicron variant.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Throughout the pandemic this government has failed to act quickly enough or take the measures needed to prevent the spread of this deadly virus, save lives and protect the economy.

“Our members in the travel industry are already suffering as a result of the reintroduction of travel restrictions and now many more workers are going to feel the pinch as Plan B kicks in.

“The government must bring back the furlough job retention scheme to ensure no one loses their jobs as result of the new restrictions.

“Serious measures need to be taken to save lives and protect public health and our NHS. The government must bring back the furlough job retention scheme so that businesses and workers can fully comply with Covid measures without the fear of job losses or businesses going bust.”

Matthew Fell, policy director at the CBI, told the BBC: “Fresh restrictions are a big setback for businesses, particularly for those in hospitality and retail who are in a critical trading period, as well as others such as transport.”

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that the new rules were “proportionate and responsible” after emergence of the Omicron variant which has already led to tighter international travel curbs.

He said: “Employers should use the rest of this week to discuss working arrangements with their employees but from Monday you should work from home if you can. Go to work if you must but work from home if you can.

“And I know this will be hard for many people, but by reducing your contacts in the workplace you will help slow transmission.”

Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said tweeted: “Given the way Omicron has seeded around the country and the world, what is the point of harsh and now unnecessary  travel restrictions on British travellers?”

MoreJavid: Omicron dominance would negate need for travel curbs

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