Mon, 29 November 2021

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No two-metre rule lifting until at least July 4, Boris Johnson suggests as shops reopen

No two-metre rule lifting until at least July 4, Boris Johnson suggests as shops reopen

The Prime Minister was speaking as shops prepared to open.

3 min read

There will be no lifting of the two-metre social distancing rule before July 4, Boris Johnson has suggested as shops across Britain reopened after months of lockdown.

The Prime Minister has ordered a review of the guidance amid concern from businesses and Conservative MPs that it is hindering efforts to reopen the economy.

But he said on Sunday the rule would be kept “under review for 4 July”, a date which marks the next phase of the Government’s “road map” for easing lockdown measures.

Government scientists have made clear that the social distancing guidelines can help halt the spread of Covid-19.

But there are concerns that pubs, restaurants and bars will be unable to reopen with enough customers to stay in business if the guidance is maintained.

With "non-essential" retailers opening their doors from Monday, It had been reported that Mr Johnson could use an announcement as soon as this week to signal an easing of the policy.

Speaking on Sunday during a trip to the Westfield shopping centre in East London, the PM told reporters: ”We'll work very closely with the scientists at all times and make the right decision on the basis of safety, health and stopping the disease."

He added: "The question for us is - as we get the numbers down so it becomes one in 1,000 (people infected with coronavirus), one in 1,600, maybe even fewer - your chances of being two metres or one metre or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus are obviously going down statistically.

"So you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre and we'll be looking at that, and we'll be keeping it under constant review as we go forward to the next step in our plan, which is 4 July.

"So we'll be keeping it under review for 4 July."

Mr Johnson said he would not risk sacrificing “the huge efforts of the British people" in tackling Covid-19.

But he made clear: "The country has come together to squash the incidence of the disease down and that gives us the potential now to look at those rules.”

The PM meanwhile said he was "very optimistic about the opening" of shops from Monday, althoigh he acknowledged it was difficult to tell whether there would be "a huge wave... or a trickle" of people venturing the high street this week.

And he urged shoppers "to observe the rules on social distancing and do it safely".

Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Sunday stressed that any decision on easing social distancing measures would be taken by ministers, and not their scientific advisers.

"We are the people who are elected to make decisions in this country," he told the BBC.

"People should hold us responsible and accountable for making those decisions. I think that people are comforted and have confidence in those decisions if they know that we are taking advice from our scientists."

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