The health secretary today rejected telling people to work from home despite the government introducing new covid measures.
Sajid Javid said he did not think it was “necessary” for people to work from home amid concerns over the new omicron variant.
It comes after Boris Johnson last night announced compulsory mask-wearing and stricter travel rules to combat the new highly transmissible strain.
Asked if people should work from home “where possible” Javid told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “No, I don’t think that’s necessary.
“Because this is about taking proportionate action against the risks that we face.
“I think what we have set out yesterday and a couple of days before that on the red listing – these are the appropriate, responsible things to do.”
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Marr pressed him: “The reason I asked about that is Sage – your advisers – are very very clear.
“They say reintroduction of working from home guidance is likely to have the greatest individual impact on transmission out of the proposed measures and yet you’ve ruled it out?”
Javid replied: “Our scientific advisers – whether they are Sage or others – that’s their job, they give advice. Ministers need to decide.”
When it was put to him that they were “ignoring” advice, Javid replied: “Our job is to take account of any scientific advice and then decide and let’s remember in the past when we’ve taken such actions they also come with a really heavy cost on the economy, on people’s social lives, on their mental health.
“I’ve seen so many problems in the NHS that were non Covid problems caused by previous lockdowns and things so that’s not of interest to me.”
Javid said the new mask wearing rules for shops and public transport should come into force on Tuesday.
Last night the prime minister said the restrictions would be reviewed in three weeks.
Anyone who comes into contact with someone infected with the variant will have to self-isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status.
Travellers will be required to take a PCR test two days after arrival in the UK and to self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
It comes after the UK Health Security Agency detected cases of the variant in Nottingham and in Brentwood, Essex.
The two cases are linked and the individuals are self-isolating while more tests and contact-tracing take place.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.