Boris Johnson says he wants to reduce 2 metre social distancing rules
The Prime Minister has said that he wants to see the two metre rule reduced – despite warnings from the medical experts.
Boris Johnson today said: “Eventually I would like to do things such as reducing the two metre rule.”
But his Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the two-metre rule will continue for as long as the coronavirus pandemic exists.
The Prime Minister told the daily briefing: “We are seeing continuous falls in this disease, in deaths, in incidents.
“That’s why we’ve been able to take the very cautious steps that we have.
“We want to take some more steps to unlock our society and try to get back to as normal as possible.
“Eventually I would like to do such things as reducing the two metre rule, for instance.”
He continued: “All those changes, all that future progress depends entirely on our ability to keep reducing the incidence and driving down that disease.
“That depends on us following the basic rules: washing your hands, self-isolate if you have symptoms, take a test and observe social distancing.”
But Professor Whitty warned that the two metre rule would be in place as long as the virus remained a risk.
He listed a series of measures at the Downing Street briefing, including hand washing, “good cough etiquette”, the use of face cloths and the two-metre rule which the public cannot let slip while the disease is a threat.
“Those are going to carry on really for as long as this epidemic continues,” he said.
Professor Whitty told the public: “We shouldn’t take the fact that small adjustments are being made now to mean that lockdown is over”.
Meanwhile the Chief Scientist Sir Patrick Vallance explained that the rate of infection was still too high.
He told the daily No 10 briefing that while the latest figures showed more than 1,800 a day had tested positive, data from the Office for National Statistics suggested the true figure was significantly higher.
At the same time he said the R – the rate of transmission – was still close to 1 which meant the numbers were not coming down quickly.
“We have relatively large numbers still not coming down fast. That gives relatively little room for manoeuvre. We have to tread very cautiously,” he said.
Last week Greg Clark, the chairman of the Commons science committee, wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to “urgently review” the rule and consider whether a reduction to 1.5 metres may be possible in light ofnewly available evidence.
Mr Clark said he hoped any change would be implemented before non-essential shops reopen on June 15, pointing out that Mr Johnson had himself expressed hope this week that the distance could be shortened.
He is one of a number of senior Tories urging the PM to reduce the distance to guard against redundancies.