Officials could go on strike over government plans to return workers to their desks this month as unions claim it is still not safe to return to the office.
Boris Johnson set a goal last night for four out of five workers to return to Whitehall each week by the end of the month. Mandarins also provide weekly headcount numbers to monitor progress.
The prime minister's ambition is part of a desperate bid to save the economy in a year when GDP has plummeted as a result of the crisis.
However, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has said it would be ready to consider strike action after confirming it opposes the plans.
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, confirmed that he was ready to consider strike actions
In a statement, the union said: "Our members have kept the country going while working from home during the pandemic and we believe it is not safe to return to work amid Covid-19 infection rates stay high and there is a likelihood of a second wave in the coming weeks.
"We urge the departments to provide the Covid safety limit for each building, the current staffing levels in each building and the current risk assessment for each building."
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “If the government or an employer starts pushing people back to work and we think it is not safe, we will firstly examine our legal options, secondly give individual legal advice and thirdly check whether a one collective response is required.
"As a last resort, of course, we would be willing to consider industrial action if you have no other choice and people's health and safety are at risk."
The national executive committee is due to meet on Wednesday 9 September and "decide how to react," the union said.
It comes after another head of the trade organization hit back at the prime minister after saying that there has been an "industrial revolution" towards homeworking.
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, which represents managers and public sector professionals, told BBC Radio Four's Today program, “When you look at what has happened in the past six months and you turn into home service, The public service had to change its priorities.
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, which represents managers and civil servants, said there had been an "industrial revolution" in homeworking
Covid switches to young people: Two thirds of new infections in the UK are under 40 years old
Two-thirds of new coronavirus infections in the UK are under 40, while the rate among the elderly has fallen sharply in an "exceptional" shift.
The number of people over 50 who tested positive for Covid-19 now makes up only a fifth of nationwide tests, compared with three quarters in the spring.
Only three percent are now over 80 years old, up from 28 percent six months ago, The Times reported.
The maximum age range for infections is now in the 20s, but for most of the pandemic it was in the 80s – which raises hope that further restrictions can be reduced as it appears that the elderly are voluntarily shielding.
A government adviser has proposed a Swedish initiative to keep workplaces open and advise older people to stay at home.
Professor Dame Anne Johnson, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at University College London, told BBC Radio 4: “This is a critical moment indeed. If you look at data from PHE across the country, we now see the highest number of infections detected in younger people, ages 20-29 and up to 45 years.
"On the one hand, the good news is that we are not seeing an increase in hospital cases and deaths right now, but of course that reflects where the transmission is taking place."
She added that it was "incredibly important" to keep educating young people about the risks of coronavirus transmission.
& # 39; It had to grapple with a four-fold increase in universal credit, develop the vacation program to support nine million workers while 95% at home. I don't think there is much evidence that it is any less effective.
“Do you think you will explain to the private sector what is efficient? They'll just say, "That worked, but because officials are returning to Whitehall, we're going to tell our staff to come back, even though it works for us now."
“This idea that the government will teach the private sector what is good for them and the virtue mark in public service is a no-brainer.
"There has been this industrial revolution and the ministers just missed out on it and instead released these declarations on high. They dream of rotas in the cabinet on how officials will return to the office."
Mr Penman also accused the government of trying to "shame" workers by reporting how few have returned to work at desks through the media.
When the lockdown began, there were 423,000 full-time officers in the Whitehall departments.
Permanent secretaries received instructions yesterday evening to "act quickly" to "bring more staff back to the office" to take advantage of the return to schools and improved public transport.
In a letter to all Whitehall ministries seen by the Post, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and Public Service Chief Alex Chisholm said the Prime Minister had "made it clear that his aim is to get as many people back on the safe side as possible Way to bring to the workplace ".
At a cabinet meeting earlier this week, they said ministers had agreed that "increasing both the number of people in the office and the time they spend in the office" would be "extremely beneficial" to the civil service.
"The Prime Minister also understands that getting more people back to work safely in Covid will improve the public services we provide and also significantly boost the local economy in which they are based," they added.
The Prime Minister has set a goal that four in five workers will return to Whitehall each week by the end of the month
A graph shows how the UK's GDP fell this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic
The letter warned that the large number of civil servants working from home has resulted in "reduced social interaction among our colleagues, with some of the spontaneous interaction and cross-fertilization between teams being lost, innovation and promote sustainable common goals ”.
It added, “There have also been challenges in bringing in new or inexperienced colleagues and limitations in our ability to mentor and develop our people.
"In short, the government believes that, by and large, there are significant benefits to working in an office environment. If possible, colleagues should now return to the office according to Covid-safe levels."
Public service directors said the goal is to have 80 percent of employees "visit their usual place of work every week" using a rota system with some only arriving for two or three days.
In a letter to all Whitehall Ministries, Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and Chief of Public Services, Alex Chisholm said the Prime Minister's goal was to get as many people as possible back to work safely
The push is a victory for the Post, which has urged more officials to return to their desks to set an example for the rest of the country.
In a sign that action is finally being taken, Interior Ministry officials were told yesterday that they would be expected back immediately.
The division's permanent secretary, Matthew Rycroft, said this would enable them to perform "fully and effectively."
The Mail continued to monitor the workforce in Whitehall. Only 5 percent of employees showed up to work in ministries this week.
With millions of students returning to classrooms this week, it was likely a busy week in the Department of Education offices that housed up to 2,000 staff prior to the pandemic.
Nevertheless, only 103 employees arrived at the seven-story headquarters on Tuesday and 120 on Thursday – that's only six percent of capacity.
In the department for corporate, energy and industrial strategy, which normally has 1,800 employees, the number of employees was only three digits.
Excerpts from the letter
It is clear to the Prime Minister that returning more people in a Covid-proof manner will improve the public services we provide and also significantly boost the local economy in which they are based.
We have noted lower levels of social interaction among our peers, with some of the spontaneous interaction and cross-fertilization between teams that drive innovation and sustainable shared goals has been lost.
There have also been challenges in including new or inexperienced colleges and limitations in the ability to mentor and develop our employees, especially early on in their careers. This is reportedly most acute for those who do not have easy access to quality home office work, for those in rental housing, and for younger colleagues early on in their careers.
In short, the government believes that there are significant overall benefits to working together in an office environment and that colleagues should now return to the office where possible according to Covid-safe levels.
Chief Operating Officer of the Public Service
Sir Mark Sedwill
The coronavirus case rate in Sweden without a lockdown is now lower than in its Nordic neighbors Denmark and Norway, with only 12 new infections per million people in the past week
In Sweden without a lockdown, the coronavirus case rate fell to just 12 new infections per million people last week among its Nordic neighbors Denmark and Norway.
By comparison, there were 14 new infections per million people in Norway and 18 in Denmark, meaning that for the first time since March, Sweden had an average case rate that was below its neighbors over seven days.
"Sweden has gone from being one of the countries with the highest infection in Europe to one of the countries with the lowest infection in Europe," said the country's state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, at a press conference earlier this week.
Meanwhile, "many other countries have seen fairly dramatic increases," he added.
At the height of the pandemic, the Swedish infection rate eclipsed that of its neighbors who had put a lockdown.
For the first time since March, the Swedish infection rate per million population (12) fell below that of its Nordic neighbors Denmark (18) and Norway (14).
At the height of its pandemic (pictured in April), Sweden decided not to lock down. Now, for the first time since March, the infection rate per million people has fallen below that of its Nordic neighbors Denmark and Norway
At its peak on June 19, Sweden had 108 new infections per million people compared to Denmark and Norway's eight and three, respectively.
The number of deaths in Sweden currently averages two to three a day, compared to a high of over a hundred a day in mid-April.
In addition, the capital Stockholm, the epicenter of the Swedish pandemic during the peak months of April and May, saw the lower number of cases since March last week.
In Stockholm, 250 out of 14,000 people tested last week were infected with the virus, a positive rate of 1.8 percent.
Denmark now registered 179 new cases on Friday, the highest daily total in more than four months.
To reinforce the positive signs in Sweden, a test last week of 2,500 randomly selected people found that none had coronavirus.
By comparison, a similar test found that 0.9 percent had the virus in late April and 0.3 percent in late May.
Karin Tegmark Wisell, the deputy of Dr. Tegnell, at the Swedish Health Department, announced the results Thursday, saying, "We interpret this to mean that there is currently no widespread infection in people who do not have symptoms."
Lockdown-free Sweden was controversial for its liberal stance on fighting the pandemic, preferring instead to let the population pass through to create "herd immunity".
But the country's latest numbers might silence some of its critics and will come a relief to those who advocated the approach and came under fire in May as the country recorded the highest per capita mortality rate in the world in some time .
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