Fewer people returning to offices in Black Country and Staffordshire

Fewer people in the Black Country and Staffordshire went into the office after Government rules were introduced on home-working, figures suggest.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new measures – dubbed Plan B – from December 13, to help slow down the spread of the Omicron variant.

Now figures from Google, which uses location data from phones and other devices to track trends in people's movements, show a decline in activity.

Data shows activity in workplaces in Wolverhampton in the working week to December 17 was 23.8 per cent below normal levels in the previous week.

In Dudley, it was 23.4 per cent below normal levels. In Sandwell, it was 20.6 per cent below. In Walsall, it was 19.6 per cent down and it was 19.2 per cent down in Stafford.

Activity in workplaces across the UK was 29.6 per cent below normal in the most recent week's data – the lowest level since the end of October, Google data shows.

The Plan B measures for England include the wider wearing of face masks, the mandatory use of Covid passes for access to large venues, and a return to working from home.

The Institute of Directors said this has had an impact on business, and led to a drop in consumer demand at the "worst possible time" for some parts of the economy.

Alex Hall-Chen, senior policy advisor at the IoD, welcomed the Government’s targeted support package for affected businesses, but said it does not go far enough.

“Business leaders crave certainty to enable them to plan and invest with confidence," he said.

A Government spokesman said: “We’ve supported people’s jobs and incomes throughout the pandemic through our £400 billion package of support, and will continue to do so through our additional £1 billion support package.

“We will continue to look closely at all emerging evidence and will keep our measures under review as we learn more about this variant.”

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