British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a new “one metre plus” social distancing rule to reopen the United Kingdom, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported late on Saturday.
The announcement, to be made on Tuesday, will apply to all venues including offices, schools and pubs, the paper reported, adding that it will take effect from July 4.
The move will allow people to remain a metre away from others if they take additional measures to protect themselves, such as wearing a mask, according to the report.
Earlier on Saturday, culture minister Oliver Dowden said that Britain’s government will announce in the coming days whether it will reduce its two-metre social distancing rule for England.
Review of 2m social distancing rule ‘due within days’
A review into the 2m social distancing rule will conclude “within the coming days”, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the BBC, amid warnings that many businesses will not survive under the current guidance. Pubs, restaurants and hotels are among those hoping to reopen as the government prepares to ease more restrictions on 4 July.
The government has faced pressure from leaders of the hospitality sector and its own MPs to lessen the 2m rule, with widespread concerns around the impact it would have on the UK economy.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson commissioned the review on 14 June, saying there was “margin for manoeuvre” in the 2m social distancing rule as the number of coronavirus cases falls.
The other nations of the UK have not announced any plans to change the 2m distance.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is looking at the evidence, and Northern Ireland’s Economy Minister Diane Dodds has said she is open to changing it.
A coronavirus adviser to the Welsh government said the risk in reducing the distance “isn’t very big”.
Which countries have one-metre social distancing
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, countries have applied different social distancing measures. The countries who followed a one-metre social distancing rule include: China Denmark France Hong Kong Lithuania Singapore
Other countries operated under just a little over one metre, with 1.4 metres being the norm in South Korea.
Australia, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal have followed a rule of 1.5 metre rule for social distancing, whereas the United States advised 1.8 metres.
What is the safest distance?
The two-metre rule has been thought to be the safest distance to prevent the spread of viruses since research back in the 1930s.
Scientists found that droplets of liquid released by coughs or sneezes evaporate quickly in the air or fall to the ground. Most of those droplets, they hypothesised, would land within one or two meters.
This method is still used today after further research published in medical journal The Lancet re-affirmed the original findings.
Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, of Girton College, Cambridge, who sits on Sage’s environmental working group, said: “As a scientist, it would absolutely make sense to me that if you can’t maintain 2 metre distancing at all times, then consider other factors which influence risk and introduce some other measures.”
But he added: “The 2 metre guidance rule in the way it has been set out has been really helpful, because there is elegance in the simplicity of a message. Just saying 2 metres is something we can all relate to, we can all understand.”