Parts of Britain showed signs that they were getting back to work this week despite the ongoing coronavirus lockdown – with builders returning to construction sites and roads visibly busier than a week ago.
Mail Online reports: “Road traffic has increased to the highest levels since the lockdown was introduced, with traffic on Sunday seeing the most drivers back on the roads for the last day of the school Easter holidays.
“Huge queues have been forming outside B&Q stores and Five Guys burger restaurants after the two companies were among those reopening in the last few days.
“It comes as the Government is said to be considering staggering workers’ start times to avoid the rush-hour bottlenecks when the majority of Britons head back to the office.
“Homebuilder Taylor Wimpey said construction will resume on May 4, rival Vistry Group said it will re-start next week and luxury car-maker Aston Martin Lagonda is set to reopen its South Wales factory on May 5.
“Builders failed to properly socially distance at one site in London today, where about 50 had temperature checks before being allowed into No 1 Palace Street where 72 luxury flats are being built near Buckingham Palace,” the report added.
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the unprecedented lockdown on March 23 to deal with the pandemic as people were ordered to ‘stay at home’. On April 16 this was extended for at least another three weeks until May 7.
“It comes as reports emerged Britons will be told to stagger their jobs around the clock to get some of the country back to work, with one option is to split the busy morning commute into three separate periods.
“This would see workers arrive to begin work in hour long slots from 7am, 10am and 1pm, while companies may also be told to split up staff working in offices or factories to come in either on alternate days or over weekends.”
Speaking about a possible staggered start to working hours, a Cabinet source told The Sun: “We have to get the wheels of the economy turning again soon or there won’t be much left of it. But life and work is going to look very different when it happens, whether it’s staggered rush hours or going in every other day.”
A witness told Mail Online: “There’s a really big block being built and they’re doing temperature checks on people before they enter the building site. You can see they are clearly not social distancing.”
But official figures have revealed a spike in vehicle usage on Monday, the most recent day with available data, suggesting motorists are beginning to ignore guidance to avoid all but essential travel, the report said.
“Car usage was more than 40 percent of normal levels at the start of this week – the highest it’s been since the Prime Minister announced the lockdown at the end of March.
“That means the number of cars on the roads has doubled in a week. Officials did not comment on the rise when it was unveiled during yesterday’s Downing Street press conference.
“But the figures are likely to worry ministers, who fear a premature relaxing of the lockdown rules could trigger a sudden rise in infections and deaths.
“They confirm anecdotal reports that roads have appeared busier than normal in recent days.
“There was also evidence that travel on public transport was increasing. Pictures showed crowded scenes at Tube stations in the capital.
“Transport for London has dramatically reduced the number of services that run, but photographs of crammed platforms and carriages suggest increasing numbers of passengers are piling on to the few trains that are running.”
“The motoring group blamed the rise on ‘frustrated households looking for ways to break the boredom’, but also said an increase in online delivery vans could be a factor.”
Spokesman Jack Cousens added: “Now, arguably more than ever, we need to stay at home to protect ourselves, our loved ones, the NHS and our communities.”
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Every driver who ventures out unnecessarily risks placing an even greater burden on our emergency services and the NHS.”
After lockdown on March 23, Easter Sunday (April 12) saw the lowest traffic levels, at just over 20 percent of the pre- lockdown figure.
But last Sunday the figures hit just over 30 percent – the highest on a Sunday since social distancing began – and they increased another ten percentage points on Monday.
- Crowds of commuters board a Jubilee line train at Canning Town station on the London Underground