Government 'determined' to retain two-metre distancing rule

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Government 'determined' to retain two-metre social distancing rule Coronavirus

Related tags Coronavirus Government

Housing minister Simon Clarke has said the Government intends to maintain a two-metre social distancing rule despite growing calls, particularly from within the hospitality sector, for it to be reduced.

Speaking on Sky News​ earlier today (2 June), Clarke said the Government believed the two-metre rule minimised the Coronavirus risk to the public, whilst also allowing people to get on with their daily lives.

"We're not doing this arbitrarily," he said.

"We're doing it because that's the advice we've been given."

It comes after a new study, published in medical journal The Lancet, concluded that maintaining a two-metre distance from others is twice as effective at preventing the spread of Coronavirus than a one-metre gap. 

However, the research also showed a one-metre gap reduced the risk of transmission to 2.6%, compared to a 13% chance of infection when standing within one metre of an individual that has Covid-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends people maintain a distance of at least one metre between each other.

Calls have been growing within the industry for the UK's two-metre social distancing rule to be scrapped, with the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) recently saying that only around 20% of pubs could reopen if it wasn't reduced.

Meanwhile, a Hospitality Leaders Poll conducted by MCA Insight/HIM last month showed that the majority of operators believed the hospitality industry would benefit greatly from halving the social distancing rule from two metres to just one​, bringing it in line with contact gap recommended by the WHO.

The results, taken from a poll of 400 founders or board level operators across restaurants, pubs and food to go, found that 40% of operators believe their businesses would be viable with a one-metre social distancing rule as opposed to two metres, with a further 36% saying it was a possibility.

For independent restaurant respondents this figure rises, with 43% saying that a one-metre rule could make their business viable.

Speaking to the Government's cross-party Liaison Committee last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked top Government scientists to review the two-metre social distancing rule​ in the 'hope' it could be reduced. 

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