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Mon, 13 July 2020

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Coronavirus: Boris Johnson to unveil findings of two-metre rule review this week

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson to unveil findings of two-metre rule review this week

Prime Minister Boris Johnson uses a sink in the playground to wash his hands during a visit to Bovingdon Primary School. (PA)

3 min read

Boris Johnson will announce the findings of the Government review into the two-metre coronavirus social distancing rule this week, it has been confirmed.

Number 10 said the Prime Minister would unveil the results of the study on Tuesday, amid pressure from Conservative MPs and some businesses to ease the curbs.

The announcement will come as Mr Johnson sets out the next stage of the Government’s ‘roadmap’ for lifting the coronavirus lockdown that has now been in force for three months.

Under the plan, “at least some” remaining businesses and premises that have been ordered to close since March — including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas — could be given the go-ahead to reopen from July 4.

But that will be subject to the Government’s “five tests” — ensuring the NHS can cope; a sustained fall in the daily Covid-19 death rate; the rate of infection decreasing to a “manageable” level; testing and personal protective equipment being in ready supply; and confidence that a second peak can be averted — being met.

On Monday the PM will chair a meeting of the Government’s Covid-19 strategy committee and will, Number 10 said, hear recommendations on the two-metre review and the next phase of the roadmap.

Then on Tuesday, Cabinet will be consulted and the PM will set out the Government’s updated position in the House of Commons.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Johnson said: “As we make that progress it will be possible to open up more.

“You will be hearing more about what we want to do with not just non-essential retail but with the hospitality sector from July 4.

“We’re sticking absolutely like glue to the road map to the plan that I set out on May 10.

“But it’s very important we don’t lose our vice-like grip on the ­disease. We’ve got to keep it on the floor where we’ve got it.

“On the progress on social distancing, watch this space.” 

Some in the hospitality and retail sector have warned that reopening with the two-metre rule in place will make it hard for them to stay afloat, while education unions warned last week that a full reopening of schools in September could not happen with the guidance in force.

In a sign that Mr Johnson could move ahead with the lifting of some lockdown measures this week, the Governmment said detailed guidance would also be published “so businesses that do open can be Covid Secure”.

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.” 
 
The Government also said that its NHS Test and Trace system, which last week saw a major shift in strategy as a long-promised smartphone app was ditched, would be used to “detect and control local outbreaks through targeted lockdowns“.

And they said that any measures announced this week would “the first to be reversed” if “widespread breaches of the rules” led to the virus again threatening “to run out of control. 

On Saturday, The Times revealed detailed plans on how pubs and restaurants, which are due to reopen on July 4, could operate under the restrictions.

Drinkers could be asked to order via an app rather than going to the bar, with staff carrying out social distancing patrols and tables being set only when customers sit down to eat.

Read the most recent article written by Matt Honeycombe-Foster - Matt Hancock says 100 local coronavirus outbreaks being tackled every week

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