Former transport secretary Lord Adonis said there was “no reason to believe that once the vaccine comes and the pandemic is over life will not return to normal”.
He was speaking on Sky’s Ian King Live program the day construction on HS2, the controversial high-speed railroad, has taken off.
Lord Adonis said: “Once COVID-19[feminine[feminine is over, and we have a vaccine and life is getting back to normal, all the reasons we needed the HS2 – we have a massive shortage of transport capacity between our big cities – this will always be true afterwards and we can’t not allow us the delay. ”
The former Minister of Labor added: “Of course there is no one on the railways at the moment because there is a pandemic and we still do not have a vaccine.
“But there is no reason to believe that once the vaccine arrives and the pandemic is over, this life will not return to normal.
“Indeed, all the evidence is that it will return to normal.
“If you look at the sectors that are already getting back to normal – education and retail – they’re behaving like they used to be, and I think it will be the same for the economy as a whole.
“I think the death of the office is massively exaggerated.
“Most people can’t wait to get back to the office, it’s just not safe to do so right now. ”
Work from home, although recommended during the worst of coronavirus pandemic, is now blamed for holding back the economic recovery.
Downtown retailers continue to suffer from low attendance as workers stay away from the office, prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to encourage people to return to the workplace.
Helen Dickinson, managing director of the British Retail Consortium, said on Friday that “more should be done to encourage people to travel and to reassure them about the safety of public transport”.
The National Statistics Office (ONS) released figures on Thursday showing that the proportion of people working exclusively from home is slowly declining.
The peak – between June 11 and 14 – saw 38% of adults working only from home, but last week that rate fell to 20%.
The ONS said: “Over the past two months, the proportion of workers working exclusively from home has been on a steadily declining trend.
“In the most recent week, the proportion of active adults commuting to work rose to 57%, its highest level since the start of the series, after rising steadily over the past two months. ”
Lord Adonis said: ‘This is particularly problematic for public transport at the moment because the only thing that spreads the disease is proximity to other people, but once that is resolved, once you have received the vaccine, and it can only take months, life will return to normal and we need this long term planning for the future, the strength and sustainability of our economy and our society, this is what HS2 is. “