Two-metre rule could be axed for pubs after Government leave off guidance for hospitality industry – The Sun

BRITAIN'S two metre rule could be ditched in favour of "wider spacing" requirements to help pubs and restaurants get back on their feet with more customers.

A draft version of the guidance for the hospitality sector left out the strict social distancing rule in a hopeful sign the restrictions could be relaxed.

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In draft proposals on how pubs and restaurants could reopen while still keeping coronavirus cases down the guidance says there needs to be "wider spacing" between customers.

The draft guidelines, seen by hospitality industry newsletter Propel, encourages staff to divide into shift teams and "use radios or telephones or other electronic devices when sending orders from service areas to kitchens".

But it did not lay out a hard and fast rule on how far apart people needed to be.

It comes after warnings two thirds of British pubs would have to stay closed if the 2 metre rule stayed in place. Previous Government guidance for restaurants should "provide where possible for two-metre social distancing" and two-metre markers on the floor.

Senior officials have told The Times the guidance could retain the two-metre rule to begin with, but alternative guidance was being prepared for when the rule was relaxed.

A cabinet minister said the Government said the Government faced a choice over whether to delay publishing the guidance until the rule could be slashed or push on to get pubs and restaurants open at the earliest possible date.

As many as 37,000 pubs wouldn't be able to reopen with 2 metre social distancing.

They said: “On balance it’s probably better to get as many businesses up and running as soon as possible rather than wait for when the rule drops to one or 1.5 metres."

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty dampened hopes of it being relaxed soon last week, saying the two-metre minimum distance would have to remain in place “for as long as this epidemic continues”.

But last night Health and Safety England boss Sarah Albon suggested the metre could be slashed in Covid-19 cases continued to fall.

Ms Albon suggested it wasn't just about the distance away from another person which was important to consider, it was the number of people currently with the virus too.

The more the virus is circulating around, the more of a risk it will be to go within than 2 metres from someone.

MPs and campaigners have been lobbying to cut the 2m rule down to save thousands of businesses and jobs.

Businesses fear that having to stay so far apart will cripple them, as they will only be able to run at a small percentage of their total capacity.

Other countries around the world have cut their distances down to 1.5m or even 1m.

But British scientists say that 2m is the safest distance that two people who are not in the same household can be from one another – without being at risk of catching the virus.

Boris Johnson has promised to conduct a fresh review of the 2m rule.

He wants to cut it in the future, when it is safe to do so.

The 2m rule is "under review" and the science continues to be looked at, Alok Sharma said tonight.

"It will only change when it is safe to do so," he said.

Ms Albon, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive added: "The science is very clear that where somebody has a Covid infection the chance of them passing that on at 2 metres distance from other people is significantly less than say one and a half or one metre.

"It requires a view both of the chance of the infection being passed on but also the prevalence in society.

"Because that sort of mix of how many people in the population have got this illness, combined with what's a safe distance gives you the probability of something being passed on and it's that complicated series of considerations that will cause the scientist to give advice to Government about the time when it's it's safe to make a shift."

Canadian researchers found there was a 1.3 per cent chance of contracting the virus when you are stood two metres apart, but this only increases to 2.6 per cent when you are separated by one metre.

But the Government have yet to make any changes.

HSE Chief Exec Sarah Albon says science is clear and transmission difference between two metres and 1.5 metres is significant


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