BORIS Johnson has hailed the “margin for manoeuvre” on the two-metre rule as “fewer than 1,000 people” in UK now have coronavirus.
The Prime Minister has ordered “comprehensive” review of the guidelines in England, and today suggested they could soon be slashed.
Mr Johnson has been under huge pressure from his own MPs over the two-metre rule, and today promised it is being reviewed.
Speaking during a visit to Westfield shopping centre, the PM insisted the chances of getting infected were more and more remote.
He said: “We’ll work very closely with the scientists at all times and make the right decision on the basis of safety, health and stopping the disease.
“The question for us is – as we get the numbers down so it becomes one in 1,000, one in 1,600, maybe even fewer – your chances of being two metres or one metre or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus are obviously going down statistically.
“So you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre and we’ll be looking at that, and we’ll be keeping it under constant review as we go forward to the next step in our plan, which is 4 July.
“So we’ll be keeping it under review for 4 July.”
It comes as:
- The Head of Ofsted demanded a plan for schools to reopen and warned children are “losing so much”
- Rishi Sunak declared the government “fully intends” to open schools to all pupils in September saying it’s a “tragedy” they’re shut
- The Chancellor revealed he was racially abused in front of his younger brother and sister
- The PM urged shoppers to return as he visited Westfield shopping centre before stores reopen tomorrow
- The White House suggested British vacationers can expect to be banned from heading to the US for months
HOAR revealed today Mr Johnson is poised to ditch the two-metre social distancing rule to help battered businesses bounce back from lockdown.
Earlier Rishi Sunak had revealed the two-metre rule is being “urgently” reviewed as he told the public it’s safe to go shopping.
The Chancellor this morning admitted he could see the “positive impact” of slashing the measures to 1.5 metres in a huge boost for business.
His comments come as the UK’s high streets take a huge step towards normality as non-essential shops reopen from tomorrow.
He said: “It’s the difference between three quarters and maybe a third of pubs opening. So it is important that we look at it.
“Now that we have made good progress in suppressing the virus we are at a different stage in the epidemic than we were at the beginning. That enables us to take a fresh look at this.
“Obviously many other countries around the world use a different rule and indeed we have seen a couple of countries recently – I think Norway and Denmark – have moved from two metres to something less as well.
“But is it important we look at it comprehensively in the round and that is what we will do urgently.”
Mr Sunak yesterday urged bargain-hunters to go on a spending spree — to help Britain bounce back from the Covid crisis.
He has now insisted slashing the two metre limit could help companies get back on their feet.
Mr Sunak added: “I can very much understand the positive impact it will have on businesses’ ability to open and thereby maintain the jobs that they have and make sure the people who work for them can come back to those jobs and remain employed.”
Britain has kept the two-metre rule when the World Health Organisation says one metre is a safe distance.
The WHO advice is followed in Spain, Italy, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Norway.
In Germany, Poland and the Netherlands the distance is 1.5 metres, with just the UK, Switzerland and US staying two metres apart.
The risk of catching the virus at one metre is 2.6 per cent, compared with 1.3 per cent at two metres. But this can be cut dramatically by other measures such as wearing face masks or taking regular breaks.
Scientists have drawn up a list of imaginative new ways to make it safer for people to work or socialise within one metre of each other.
Mr Johnson is expected to make the cut conditional on a continued fall in the infection rate and bosses agreeing to alternative regulations.
Tory MPs and ministers have warned only a third of pubs, restaurants and cafes will open for business if the two-metre rule stays in place.
Last month former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith claimed Britain needed to slash the distance people must be apart to get the nation back in work.
The prominent backbencher warned unemployment depends on how quickly the economy starts back up again.
He said: “We need to get that moving as quick as possible and I’ve certainly been arguing that for some weeks now.”
The move could be timed for when the hospitality trade reopens in July.