Coronavirus: 'No plans' to reconsider two-metre distancing rule, government says

People enjoy the hot weather in Greenwich Park, London. (Getty Images)
People enjoy the hot weather in Greenwich Park, London. (Getty Images)

There are no plans to reconsider the two-metre distancing rule despite pleas from pub operators to shorten it, a government spokesman has said.

British pub bosses have asked for public social distancing rules to be halved from two metres to one in talks with the government on reopening, with many worried that will have to close permanently otherwise, the Financial Times reported.

But a spokesman for Number 10 said on Wednesday they were not planning to change the rule that was formed with scientific advice.

Simon Emeny, chief executive of pub group Fuller’s, reportedly said in the meeting the rules went “above and beyond” the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

He added: "I think it's really important that (the rules) are relaxed by the time pubs reopen.”

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The FT also added Jonathan Neame, the head of pub operator Shepherd Neame, said attempting to keep people two metres away would be “profoundly challenging” and many pubs would have to remain closed.

Government adviser Professor Robert Dingwall told the BBC on Wednesday the evidence for two-metre social distancing was “very fragile”.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader, has also criticised the two-metre rule and added relaxing the rule would help businesses.

He said WHO only recommended a one-metre distance.

People enjoy the hot weather at Bournemouth beach in Dorset. (Getty Images)
People enjoy the hot weather at Bournemouth beach in Dorset. (Getty Images)

Sir Iain told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We need to get [the economy] moving as quick as possible and I’ve certainly been arguing that for some weeks now.

“I visited a restaurant the other day that had made plans to lessen the distance between tables by putting up Perspex screens between. I think the government is going to have to look very carefully and try and show some flexibility.

“I think when it comes to the hospitality sector, I think we do need to look at it very carefully. We do need to look at how they manage that [social distancing] process and give them some flexibility.

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