'Comprehensive' review of two-metre distancing rule ordered by PM

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

'Comprehensive' review of Coronavirus two-metre social distancing rule ordered by Boris Johnson

Related tags: Government, Coronavirus

An 'comprehensive' review of the two-metre social distancing rule has been ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as pressure continues to grow for the Government to relax the guidance.

Cutting the contact gap to one metre is seen as being integral to helping many hospitality businesses reopen sustainably, with chef restaurateur Tommy Banks telling BBC Radio 5​ last week that it would be 'impossible' to run a restaurant with two metre social distancing in place.

According to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), failure to reduce it will mean 25,000 English pubs, or two thirds of the overall total, will be forced to stay closed post lockdown with no hope of reopening.

Relaxing the rule would bring the UK into line with the recommendations of The World Health Organization (WHO), which suggests people maintain a distance of at least one metre between each other.

Speaking on Sky News​ ​yesterday (14 June), Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Government review will include input from scientists and economists, but it will be ministers who will take the final decision on whether to relax the current rule.

He said: "The Prime Minister has put in place a comprehensive review of the two-metre rule.

"Now we have made good progress in suppressing the virus, we're at a different stage of the epidemic than we were at the beginning, and that enables us to take a fresh look at this.

"Obviously many other countries around the world use a different rule. We have seen a couple of countries recently - Norway and Denmark - have moved from two metres to something less."

He added: "It is important we look at it comprehensively in the round and that is what we will do urgently."

It was reported last week​ that Johnson wants to make the switch, but is nervous about it leading to a second Coronavirus peak. 

However, there is currently no confirmed date regarding when the review will aim to report back, with some reports suggesting it may not be until 4 July; the date currently being mooted by Government as the day that hospitality businesses can reopen.

Neil Gatt, CEO of Northern-based Italian restaurant group Pesto, says the Government needs to take urgent steps to avoid “utter chaos” in early July.

"We are being inundated with requests for bookings for the 4 July, even though we have not yet announced when we intend to reopen," he says.

"We have had numerous requests for party bookings, for even as many as 28 people. Boris Johnson needs to come off the fence now and make it absolutely clear just how the Government intends to reopen hospitality.”

Posting on Twitter last week, chef restaurateur Stevie Parle echoed calls​ for the Government to provide clarity around reopening.

"In three weeks some restaurants may be able to open in some form with some restrictions in place," he said.

"How are we supposed to prepare for this; it’ll take three weeks to ramp up to opening. We need clarity now."

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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