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England replaces two-metre social distancing rule with 'one-metre plus'

Pubs will also re-open in England from the start of July.

Boris Johnson speaking to the House of Commons.
Boris Johnson speaking to the House of Commons.
Image: House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced that the two-metre social distancing rule will be eased in England, replaced with a “one-metre plus” measure, with the protection offered by the physical distance enhanced by other mitigation measures such as the use of face coverings, increased hygiene or layout changes in premises.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson said the “national hibernation” is beginning to end, and “life is returning to our streets”.

Johnson told MPs that progress in tackling the virus meant steps could be taken to “safely ease the lockdown”, but “caution will remain our watchword”.

He acknowledged that the two-metre rule “effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy even without other restrictions”.

He added: “We’re today publishing guidance on how business can reduce the risk by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers.

“And these include, for instance, avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, closing non-essential social spaces, providing hand sanitiser, changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams.”

Johnson, who was hospitalised with Covid-19, said he is relying on people using their common sense to limit the spread of the virus.

He said “difficult judgments” had to be made and “every step is scrupulously weighed against the evidence”.

“Our principle is to trust the British public to use their common sense in the full knowledge of the risks, remembering that the more we open up the more vigilant, we will need to be,” he said.

Pubs

The UK government also announced today that pubs, restaurants and cinemas will be able to reopen from 4 July, with “one metre-plus” distancing measures in place.

The hospitality industry had warned that pubs and restaurants would close if the measure remained in place.

In a move similar to that set to be introduced in Ireland after 29 June, pubs and restaurants in Englandwill be limited to table service and will be asked to collect customers’ details so they can be traced if there is a coronavirus outbreak.

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With reporting from Dominic McGrath

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