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"The death of the office is massively exaggerated", a former government minister has said, insisting most people "can't wait" to get back to the workplace.

Former transport secretary Lord Adonis said there is "no reason to believe that once the vaccine has come and the pandemic is over, that life won't return back to normal".

He was speaking to Sky's Ian King Live programme on the day that construction on HS2, the controversial high-speed railway, got under way.

Image: Many offices in London remain empty as the pandemic continues

Lord Adonis said: "Once COVID-19 is over, and we've got a vaccine and life returns to normal, all the reasons why we needed HS2 – we have a massive shortage of transport capacity between our major cities – that will still be true afterwards and we can't afford the delay."

The former Labour minister added: "Of course there is no one on the railways at the moment because there is a pandemic, and we still haven't got a vaccine.

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"But there is no reason to believe that once the vaccine has come and the pandemic is over, that life won't return back to normal.

"Indeed, all of the evidence is that it will return back to normal.

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"If you are looking at the sectors which are already returning back to normal – education and the retail sector – they are behaving just as they were before, and I think it will be the same with the economy at large.

"I think the death of the office is massively exaggerated.

"Most people can't wait to get back to the office, it's just that it's not safe to do so at the moment."

Working from home, while recommended during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, is now being blamed for holding back the economic recovery.

Inner city retailers continue to suffer from low footfall as workers stay away from the office, prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to encourage people to return to the workplace.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, saidRead More – Source