PMQs: Boris Johnson drops biggest hint yet two-metre social distancing rule to be ditched
The Prime Minister has made it clear he wants to remove the two-metre rule (PA)
Boris Johnson has dropped the biggest hint yet that he is to ditch the two-metre rule on social distancing as many other countries have done.
The Prime Minister has made it clear he would like to see the figure reduced, something several trade groups and his own MPs have been lobbying for.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said he would keep the measure “under constant review” after repeated calls by the hospitality sector to move it to one metre.
They argue that it will be impossible for many pubs and restaurants to reopen with the restriction set at two metres.
Mr Johnson was asked about the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions by the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford.
He said: “The Prime Minister told the Liaison Committee, ‘I do not actually read the scientific papers’. It’s no wonder then that it took the UK so long to act on quarantine measures.
“The Prime Minister’s scientific advisory group weren’t even asked for advice on this significant policy. This has been a complete shambles. Too little, too late.
“We cannot risk ignoring the experts once again. Can the PM confirm what scientific papers he has read on the two-metre social distance rule?”
Mr Johnson replied: “I disagree with my Honourable Friend, I’ve read a huge amount about a disease that affects our entire nation.
“I’ve read many papers actually on the social distancing rule, and it’s a very interesting point.
“And I think members across the House of Commons will want to understand that I believe that those measures, the two-metre rule, need now to be kept under review."
He added: "As we drive this disease down, as we get the incidence down, working together I want to make sure that we keep that two-metre rule under constant review.”
Mr Blackford said the Government’s own Sage advisory committee said the risk of catching Covid-19 is greatly increased at a distance of one metre.
Meanwhile England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty has said social distancing will be needed until at least the end of the year to prevent fresh coronavirus outbreaks.
But the PM responded by saying: “There are all sorts of views about the two-metre rule. He’s absolutely correct about the Sage advice.
"But clearly, as the incidences of the disease comes down, as I think the members of Sage would confirm, the statistical likelihood of being infected no matter how near or far you are from someone who may or may not have coronavirus comes down.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe