COVID-19: Boris Johnson to announce cut in social distancing rule

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UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is expected to announce tomorrow, June 22, 2020, a reduction in the two-metre social distancing rule.

Labour has said that “under certain circumstances” they would support moving to one metre.

In line with the government’s roadmap for lifting the lockdown, 4th July, 2020, marks the start of “phase three” when some businesses can reopen, likely to include pubs and restaurants.

The government says it will publish detailed guidance to ensure these companies are “COVID-19 secure”.

The prime minister is due to seek advice from experts and finalize the changes on Monday, June 22, 2020, before seeking approval from his Cabinet and outlining the plans to parliament on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Other nations of the UK have yet to change their two-metre guidance.

But both Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her counterpart in Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, are considering a reduction.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: “The reason we are able to move forward this week is because the vast majority of people have taken steps to contain the virus.

“The more we open up, the more important it is that everyone follows the social distancing rules.

“We will not hesitate to put the handbrake on to stop the virus running out of control.”

James Brokenshire, the security minister, told Sky News the government’s review of the two-metre rule would “fuse” both scientific and economic views about lifting lockdown measures.

The government has previously spoken about being “guided” by scientists in its approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Brokenshire suggested a reduction in the two-metre rule could also be combined with other measures, such as face coverings or separating barriers, being introduced for some settings.

“I understand that real urgency, that desire, whether it’s for haircuts, whether it’s to go out and get a meal to be able to socialize,” he said.

“It’s just that clarity on doing that in a way that does not impact or risk further issues around public health and, obviously, the second spike that we are determined to avoid.

“So there is a lot that will be brought together in terms of all of those different elements.”

In Germany, which began lifting lockdown measures in May, the reproductive rate of coronavirus leapt to 2.88 on Sunday.

The R number refers to the reproductive rate of the disease and any figure above one means the number of cases will increase exponentially.

Mr Brokenshire said the UK government would be “informed by experience from around the world” as it continues to lift lockdown measures.

He added: “That issue on the second spike, that issue on the impact on the transmission rate. The R rate is absolutely critical and why we are doing this with great care, with great thought and learning from experiences around the world.”

Sky News

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