SENIOR Tories have demanded the Prime Minister scrap the two-metre social distancing rule to get pubs open and serving more people.
Lowering the two metre rule to 1 or 1.5 metres could mean tens of thousands more pubs could reopen and avoid many of them having to lay off staff or even close their doors forever.
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Chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee has written to Boris Johnson asking him to “urgently review” the rule, and consider reducing it to 1.5 metres in light of new evidence to help British boozers get back on their feet.
Mr Clark said he hoped any change to the rule would also be implemented before non-essential shops reopen on June 15.
Countries around the world including Denmark and Australia have followed social distancing with either 1 or 1.5 metres in between people, rather than 2 metres.
World Health Organisation guidelines tell people to maintain “at least 1 metre” between each other.
Mr Clark told The Telegraph: “The difference between two metres and 1.5 metres may seem small but it can be the difference between people being able to go to work and losing their jobs.”
Yesterday, chief exec of the British Beer and Pub Association Emma McClarkin said thousands of pubs across the country would not be able to adhere to a 2 metre rule, and would have to keep their doors closed even if they were allowed to reopen.
She said keeping the 2 metres rule would mean only a third of Britain’s boozers would be able to start serving again – as many as 37,000 would have to stay closed.
If the 2 metre rule was halved to 1 metre – that would allow 75 per cent of Britain’s pubs to reopen.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis also threw his support behind relaxing the 2 metre rule and said changes to the furlough scheme should be implemented “in-step” with easing social distancing.
He said businesses would face an “unnatural justice” if they were forced to start paying towards staff costs again while remaining shut under the two-metre rule.
He said: “What will happen is that they will shut, meaning the furlough money is wasted, and there will be no tax revenue from that business.”
“If it is impossible for a business to come back into effective operation – pub, cafe, restaurant – it’s not reasonable to expect it to have deep pockets to keep going.
“It’s an exercise in common sense economics: you must tie the reduction of the furlough scheme to the actions being taken.”
In his letter to the PM Mr Clark referred to a new paper released by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage) which acknowledges it could be possible to maintain social distancing “at less than two metres” if other measures to stem new infections are introduced.
Chief Scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the 2 metre rule is not “absolute”.
He said: “The evidence… is looking at the distance that droplets and exhaled droplets might travel, 2 metres is a distance beyond which things are very safe.
“It is not absolute, 2 metres is very safe but there is graduation across that.”
But according to Sir Patrick, a 1 metre distance could be as much as 30 times more risky than 2 metres.
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