- The two-metre distancing rule is set to be relaxed after lowering of virus alert
- Precautions such as proper ventilation and greater use of masks required
- Scientific advisers are said to be ‘totally comfortable’ with lifting restrictions
The two-metre rule is finally set to be relaxed following a significant lowering of the virus alert level.
A Government source last night revealed that scientific advisers were now ‘totally comfortable’ with reducing the restriction – provided other precautions are in place.
These could include making sure buildings are properly ventilated, greater use of masks or the installation of screens where people might be too close together.
The remarks by the senior source are the biggest indication so far that scientists will not resist if Boris Johnson chooses to relax the two-metre rule. Yesterday, the Prime Minister told the public to ‘watch this space’ when asked whether the rule would be eased in schools.
Mr Johnson has already announced a review into the controversial guidance in the face of mounting pressure from pub, hotel and restaurant chains and his own backbench MPs.
The indication the rules could be abolished came as the UK’s four chief medical officers announced they would be lowering the virus alert level from four to three following a dramatic reduction in new infections, hospital admissions and deaths.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the shift as ‘a big moment for the country’. Yesterday Mr Johnson urged the public to ‘start thinking of a world where we are less apprehensive of this disease’.
He said the Government would switch from a ‘one-size fits all’ national lockdown to local restrictions to contain smaller outbreaks.
Meanwhile a Whitehall source said ministers were considering relaxing the rules even further by allowing two families to go into one another’s’ houses in ‘support bubbles’.
In a fast-moving day:
- The Prime Minister said he wanted every child back to school full-time by September
- Figures revealed the Government had spent £11million on their beleaguered tracing app which was then scrapped earlier this week
- Betting firms were found to have screened 24 adverts during the first two Premier League matches on Wednesday
- The Home Office revealed not a single fine had been issued for its controversial quarantine scheme in the two weeks since it was introduced
- The Welsh Government announced it would be restarting its tourism industry from next month
- South Asians were found to be 20 per cent more likely to die from the virus, partly due to diabetes
- Three meat factories which supply supermarkets were closed following coronavirus outbreaks
- England’s largest hospital, the Birmingham NHS Foundation trust, reported no virus patients in intensive care for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic
- The UK’s overall death toll rose by 173 to 42,461
Yesterday, Mr Johnson gave a clear indication that the two-metre rule would soon be relaxed for schools. But if it was changed for schools, it would almost certainly be reduced for the hospitality sector, workplaces and throughout the Government’s social distancing guidelines.
Praising the downgrading of the alert level, Mr Johnson told Sky News the pandemic had been a ‘horrible shock’.