More than two years after it began, for the great majority of people the pandemic is over. There are still thousands contracting Covid every day but for the vast majority the effect is small, no worse than a cold. For some, it is true, the illness can still be serious and the NHS once again reports it is under severe strain, which is more a function of its organisation and the failure of primary care than the disease itself.
The lockdowns ushered in a new way of working for many, with offices opened for just a few days a week if at all. For months those who could work from home were encouraged to do so and many do not want to go back to their previous job patterns.
Foremost among them appear to be officials, both in Whitehall and local government, whose absence from their desks has a deleterious impact on the services they provide to the public.
Despite all remaining Covid restrictions having been removed in January, a hybrid working environment now seems to be endemic in the Civil Service, with staff spending less than 40 per cent of their working time in offices. An internal survey found that in some departments like Education just one in four employees were at their desks.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Cabinet Office minister with a brief to improve government efficiency, has written to departmental chiefs calling for a return to full-time office working.
It is apparent that the absence of staff across government is having an effect on the efficient delivery of policy from housing Ukraine refugees to the issuing of new driving licences. The millions who themselves are have gone back to the office deserve better from those often better off than they are.