Will the two metre social distancing rule be reduced to one metre in the UK?

28 May 2020, 12:35

WIll the rules on social distancing be changed in the UK
WIll the rules on social distancing be changed in the UK. Picture: PA

Boris Johnson has spoken of his hope that the current two-metre rule could be reduced to help the hospitality sector reopen.

The UK is currently in lockdown, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently revealing that a phased reduction of measures will be enacted in England over the current months.

In a televised address to the nation on 10 May, he announced that phase one would see the public able to do unlimited exercise, a return to work for those who cannot do so from home, and allowing people to meet up with one person not in their household.

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The next phase will see schools and shops reopening next month, and the hospitality sector may be allowed to open its doors in July.

All of the above, however, is subject to people social distancing.

Brits have been told to keep a two metre distance from people not in their household
Brits have been told to keep a two metre distance from people not in their household. Picture: PA

Current guidelines ask the public to ensure to keep two metres away from anyone not in their household, but Boris Johnson has expressed hope that this could be changed in the coming weeks.

Speaking on Wednesday 28 May, the Prime Minister confirmed that he had asked the government scientific advisors to look again at the evidence and that he was optimistic "we will be able to reduce that distance".

Will social distancing guidelines be reduced from two metres to one metre?

He did point out that the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) still believe that two metres is the appropriate distance. However, they have previously updated their advice on other subjects - an example being face coverings.

Read more: Boris Johnson reveals pubs and restaurants could now reopen in June

He told MPs: "My own hope is that as we make progress in getting the virus down, in reducing the incidence, that we will be able to reduce that distance, which I think will be particularly valuable in transport and clearly the hospitality sector."

The UK and Spain are the only European countries with the two metre rule
The UK and Spain are the only European countries with the two metre rule. Picture: PA

What does the WHO organisation recommend about social distancing?

Currently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a one metre rule. Some countries - such as Denmark - have recently adopted this rule.

The UK and Spain are at present the only European countries with a two-metre rule.

When Boris Johnson was asked by former business secretary Greg Clark why the UK seems to have a different approach to other countries in this context, he replied: "You’re making a very important point and one I have made myself several times, many times in the course of the debates we’ve had. 

"The advice from Sage remains at the moment that there is a very considerable reduction in risk at two metres.

"We have to rely on the guidance we get from our own advisers. But that may evolve, as you know Sage has changed its advice on face coverings."

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