Boris Johnson wants two-metre social distancing rule to be EASED to help shops and pubs reopen and says he has already asked Sage experts to look into it
- UK has one of the strictest contact gap rules in the world to counter coronavirus
- It is double one metre gap recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO)
- That is the distance permitted in Hong Kong, Singapore, France and China
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Boris Johnson has asked top Government scientists to review the two-metre social distancing rule in the ‘hope’ that it can be reduced, he told MPs today.
The UK has one of the strictest contact gap rules in the world to counter coronavirus transmission, double the one metre gap recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
That is the distance permitted in Hong Kong, Singapore, France and China, while Australia, Germany and the Netherlands recommend 1.5 metres.
Schools and shop in the UK are due to open in the next few weeks with strict measures already being planned to keep children and shoppers two metres from each other as much as possible in both settings.
Facing senior MPs on the Liaison Committee this afternoon Mr Johnson was asked about the two metre rule by Science Committee chairman Greg Clark.
The PM replied that the Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) advice was that there was a ‘considerable reduction in risk at that distance, compared to a smaller gap.
‘My own hope is that as we make progress in getting the virus down … we will be able to reduce that distance which I think will be particularly valuable on (public) transport and in the hospitality sector,’ he added.
Boris Johnson has asked top Government scientists to review the two-metre social distancing rule in the ‘hope’ that it can be reduced, he told MPs today
The UK has one of the the widest physical contact gaps in the world to counter coronavirus transmission, double the one metre gap recommended by the World Health Organisatio
Facing senior MPs on the Liaison Committee this afternoon Mr Johnson was asked about the two metre rule by Science Committee chairman Greg Clark
‘Their answer is that that is what they feel is the right interval for us. We rely and have done throughout on the guidance we get from our advisers and that is what they think is appropriate at the moment but … that may evolve.
‘As you know Sage has changed its advice, for example on face coverings.’
Mr Clark asked if he would ask Sage to reconsider the advice ‘in good time for shops and other places to consider their practice’, adding: This has a massive impact on whether many workplaces can open.’
The Prime minister replied: ‘Ii have already done just that.
Last week pub owners warned that the two-metre distancing rule could keep 80 per cent of pubs from opening because of a lack of space.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said on 20 per cent of pubs would be able to reopen with two-metre distancing, but a one-metre gap between punters would bring the majority back.
A senior scientist, Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on a Sage sub-committee, has also said the distance is based on ‘very fragile’ evidence.
The World Health Organisation recommends a one metre distance between two people from separate households.
The reason for this, as stated on its website, is that: ‘When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus.
‘If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.’