Coronavirus: Social distancing guidelines to be cut from two metres to 'one metre plus'
Social distancing guidelines are set to be cut (Credit: PA)
Social distancing guidelines will be cut from two metres to "one metre plus", as Boris Johnson sets out plans to continue to ease the national lockdown.
Where people are unable to stay two metres apart, they should now maintain a distance of at least one metre, while adhering to other safety measures, such as wearing masks on public transpor
Downing Street said after a long period of asking the public to follow very strict and complex rules to bring coronavirus under control, the Government was "now in a position to make room for people to see more of their friends and family and to help business, get back on their feet, and people back in jobs".
It is part of raft of measures Mr Johnson set out on Tuesday as part of the next phase of easing lockdown restrictions in England, which will also see the reopening of large parts of the hospitality and leisure industry from July 4.
The PM told the Commons: "Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, we can change the two metre social distancing rule from July 4.
"I know this rule effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy, even without other restrictions.
"For example, it prevents all but a fraction of our hospitality industry, from operating."
He added: "Where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should.
"But where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of one metre plus, meaning they should remain one metre apart, while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.
"And we are today, publishing guidance on how business can reduce the risk by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers."
Mr Johnson said businesses would be encouraged to avoid "face to face" contact to ensure the new guidance is met, with moves to change office layouts, bring in protective screens and ask people to wear face coverings forming part of the measures.
Firms also be expected to close "non-essential social spaces", provide hand sanitiser, and adjust shift patterns to avoid unneccessary contact between staff, the PM said.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his party welcomed "the thrust" of Mr Johnson's statement, but called for more clarity on several aspects, including support for businesses who had "already spent thousands preparing to operate at two metres".
"Any unlocking carries risks. It has to be phased, managed and carefully planned. It needs to be based on scientific evidence, proper communcition and accompanied by robust track and trace systems and there must be support for local councils and communities to respond quickly and decisively if there are any outbreaks," he added.