Boris Johnson suggests 2m rule could be lowered if number of coronavirus cases comes down


BORIS Johnson suggestd today that the UK’s two metre rule could be lowered if the number of cases of coronavirus drops.

The PM faces increased pressure to relax the two-metre distancing rule today after a key government scientific adviser warned of “economic devastation” and even deaths if he doesn’t.

The two metre rule is key to keeping Britain safe from the virus – but is set to harm pubs reopening
Brits still have to stay 2m apart from others outside their own household

Boris Johnson suggested today that the distance could come down if the number of infections is lowered.

He told MPs in the House of Commons: “As the incidents of the disease comes down as I think, members of SAGE have could confirm, the statistical likelihood of becoming infected, no matter how close or far you are form someone who may or may not have coronavirus, comes down.”

He has promised to conduct a fresh review of the 2m rule.

He wants to cut it in the future, when it is safe to do so.

Other countries around the world have cut their distances down to 1.5m or even 1m.

Professor Robert Dingwall said earlier that even if the distance was cut to one metre, there would still be a “safety margin” as it was “very rare” for virus particles to travel that far.

His comments adds to growing warnings from Tory MPs and the hospitality industry that failure to reduce the social distancing rules to one-metre could be the death knell for pubs, cafes and restaurants.
A study published in the Lancet found physical distancing of at least one metre lowers the risk of coronavirus transmission, but distances of two metres could be more effective.
The risk of infection when people stand more than a metre away from the infected individual was found to be 3 per cent, and 13 per cent if within a metre.
Prof Dingwall told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was a “problematic” study because it did not look at the economic consequences of having a larger distance requirement.
“I think it’s a question of relative risk. Even the problematic Lancet study that was published last week was really saying you’re moving from a tiny risk at two metres to a very small risk at one metre.

“You have to set that against all the other harms that are being done by the, the economic devastation that is wreaked by the two-metre rule, the deaths that will be attributable to the lockdown itself, and to the social and economic disruption that is causing.”

Prof Dingwall, a member of the new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group (Nervtag), added: “The work on transmission in naturally occurring environments suggests that it’s very rare for particles to travel much more than half a metre.
“So you have that, you have that safety margin which is built in.
“And actually, as you get closer to people, you do begin to invade on personal space.

“With the exception of some very specific environments, like the London Tube at rush hour, you don’t let people get back close to you, unless they are members of your household, children, romantic partners, people with whom you have a very close relationship.
“So there is a kind of natural boundary around people, and one metre is roughly double that.”

Boris Johnson said he wanted to cut the 2m rule

Business Secretary Alok Sharma yesterday heavily hinted that the Government could soon reduce the two-metre social distancing rule to 1-metre.
Signalling it was only a matter of time before the Government reduced the 2 metre distancing rules to 1 metre, Mr Sharma told last night’s coronavirus press conference: “When it is safe to do so, we will see whether you can move to a shorter distance.”
He added: “There are other countries in the world that have moved from two metres to closer distances. Of course, they are further along in terms of their road map, in terms of opening up businesses.
“We are taking a cautious view on this. I completely understand why for economic reasons businesses will want to have a look at this two-metre rule.”

It comes after warnings two thirds of British pubs would have to stay closed if the 2 metre rule stayed in place.

Previous Government guidance for restaurants should “provide where possible for two-metre social distancing” and two-metre markers on the floor.

Meanwhile, senior officials have told The Times the guidance could retain the two-metre rule to begin with, but alternative guidance was being prepared for when the rule was relaxed.

A cabinet minister said the Government said the Government faced a choice over whether to delay publishing the guidance until the rule could be slashed or push on to get pubs and restaurants open at the earliest possible date.

As many as 37,000 pubs wouldn’t be able to reopen with 2 metre social distancing.

Canadian researchers found there was a 1.3 per cent chance of contracting the virus when you are stood two metres apart, but this only increases to 2.6 per cent when you are separated by one metre.

But the Government have yet to make any changes.