BRITAIN’S two metre rule is set to stay in place for weeks to come after Boris Johnson ordered a fresh review.
No10 said today that the new analysis would take into account incidents of the virus and international comparisons too.
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Pubs, bars and restaurants are crying out for the PM to reduce it down to one metre to they can remain viable and stay afloat.
The Covid strategy committee – which is chaired by the PM, will look at the evidence on the current two metre rule.
The committee will draw on evidence from scientists, but they will make their own decisions
The PM has previously said he would get the review completed by today, when shops across the country have reopened to customers.
A spokesperson for the PM said today: “It will look at evidence around transmission of the virus, incidence rates, and in different environments, and international comparisons.
“It will draw on advice from scientific and medical experts as well as economists and papers from SAGE.
“It will take advice from a range of experts including the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser.
“It will be completed in the coming weeks.”
Cutting down the risk from two to one metre would crease ten times extra risk of catching coronavirus, experts say.
But other studies show that the difference is marginal.
The PM has said he wants to cut it when the number of incidents of the virus reduces – which would mean there would be a slimmer chance of catching it anyway.
The review will be led by Simon Case – the permanent secretary at No10.
The PM’s spokesperson confirmed that the opening date for pubs and hospitality businesses is still “from July 4” meaning that there is just over two weeks to go.
They said: “We understand that they will want to get going again as soon as they possibly can.
“But we have a duty to ensure that when reopening does take place, it’s done in a safe way.”
But there is not yet confirmation that the July 5 reopening will yet go ahead.
It could also be the case that pubs open with 2m social distancing in place and the rule reduces to one just weeks afterwards, sparking chaos for businesses.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the leading trade association representing Britain’s brewers and pubs, has today demanded the UK Government give a clear date for when pubs can reopen.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, told The Sun: “If the Government can help in any way to go to a safe distance, as advised WHO, that will help our sector reopen.
“We need to know, it’s having a major impact on our preparations. We need to get clarity, immediately.
“Our pub are burning money – for every moment they remain closed – if they are have to remain closed or they are not viable, they are burning away up to £100m a month.
“The longer we have this waiting or prevarication on any decision making, the more likely it will be tens of thousands of job losses, and pubs will close their doors for good.”
Kevin Georgel, Chief Executive of St Austell Brewery, said: “Like many other breweries we have been forced to take a significant gamble and start brewing draught beer again to ensure that pubs can reopen on 4th July as per the Government roadmap.
“Cask Ale on average takes three weeks to brew and lager can often take longer. In order for pubs to be able to serve a pint of fresh draught beer that customers have longed for during lockdown, we had to start brewing last week.
“If pubs do not now open on 4th July, all of this beer will be lost at huge cost to us during this time of survival.”
The news comes after reports that the Government’s top scientists were unhappy about having to shoulder the responsibility for the decision, and the Sunday Times claimed they were “on resignation watch”.
The Government has repeatedly said it will be led by the science in making decisions about the coronavirus outbreak.
Number 10 insisted there was not an issue in the Government’s relations with the scientists who appear at the daily coronavirus press conferences.
Last week the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance said last week that the two metre advice was “not a rule”.
He told the Downing Street briefing last week: “It is wrong to portray this as a scientific rule that says it is two metres or nothing – that is not what the advice has been and it is not what the advice is now.”
Instead the decision is going to be taken by ministers, the Chancellor confirmed yesterday.
It means it will be up to Boris to make the final decision. He has been told there is no magic number of infections to get down to before it’s safe to reduce the 2m rule.
The World Health Organisation says at least one metre apart is recommended. Other countries in Europe have reduced their distances to 1.5m or even one.
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