MORE people in Maldon went back to working from home following new Government guidelines about the Omicron strain of the coronavirus.

The Government introduced new coronavirus restrictions following the spread of the Omicron variant, including advising those who can work from home to do so from Monday, December 13.

Figures show activity in workplaces in Maldon in the working week to December 17 was 24 per cent lower than during a five-week baseline period before the coronavirus pandemic.

This was down from 21.8 per cent below normal levels in the five days to December 10, and a month earlier when it was 22.4 per cent below the baseline.

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

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.

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

He added: “Business leaders crave certainty to enable them to plan and invest with confidence.

"Therefore, we are also looking to the Prime Minister to clear up the speculation about whether additional restrictions are going to be introduced in the days following Christmas.”

When the new guidance was issued, the Confederation of British Industry said the Government was right to advise those who can work from home to do so, but that this should be reversed as soon as it is safe.

Average activity in travel hubs such as bus and trains stations was 33.2 per cent below normal in the week ending December 17 – the lowest it has been since the end of August.

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.”