International

Growing calls for UK government to scrap 2-metre distance rule

London, Jun 11 (IANS) | Publish Date: 6/11/2020 9:11:03 AM IST

The UK government is facing calls from former Conservative Party members to drop the 2-metre social distancing rule in England, saying that keeping the measure will significantly impede recovery, media reports said on Thursday.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith has warned of dire economic consequences, with public transport running quieter than necessary and pubs, restaurants and cafes unable to stage a proper recovery or even open, reports the BBC.
He has urged Ministers to move to a 1-metre policy - in line with World Health Organization guidance already followed by countries including France, Denmark and Singapore.
“The number one and single most important priority to unlock the economy is getting the distance down to one metre,” Smith was quoted as saying to the Daily Mail newspaper.
“The hospitality sector simply can’t make a living at two metres.” Another former Conservative Cabinet Minister, Damian Green, told the BBC that scrapping the 2-metre guidance was the “single biggest change” the government should make in the coming weeks.
“I think that makes a huge difference to many parts of industry, particularly hospitality businesses, restaurants, pubs, and so on,” he said.
“We’ve seen other countries do that, actually move from two metres to one metre, without any damaging effects so far.”
Green added that he would like to see the move come as part of “a package of ways of making sure that we do get our economy, across the board, open as fast as possible”.
Conservative backbenchers made similar points to Chancellor Rishi Sunak - who admitted the rule makes things difficult for opening up - behind closed doors on Wednesday night, according to the BBC report.
At Wednesday’s daily Downing Street briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to “keep that two metre rule under constant review”.
He said there was a “balance of risk” to be struck, but caution was needed at present.
As of Thursday, the COVID-19 cases in the UK stood at 291,588, the fourth highest in the world, with 41,213, the second highest number of global fatalities.

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