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Boris Johnson slashes 2m rule to 1metre+ – but what does it mean?

BORIS Johnson has reduced the two-metre social distancing rule to 'one-metre plus' - but only if Brits comply with a series of stringent conditions.

Business bosses, backbench Tory MPs and pub landlords have called for the distance to be cut to kick-start the economy and get pupils back into schools.

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Pubs will reopen on July 4 with new reduced social distancing measures
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Pubs will reopen on July 4 with new reduced social distancing measures Credit: PA:Press Association
The move will allow businesses to reopen next month, the PM says
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The move will allow businesses to reopen next month, the PM says Credit: AFP or licensors
Boris Johnson made the announcement in the House of Commons this afternoon
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Boris Johnson made the announcement in the House of Commons this afternoon Credit: PA:Press Association

And this lunchtime, the Prime Minister has announced that the distance will be cut - adding: "Our national hibernation is coming to an end."

But instead of simply reducing the rule to one metre - the distance suggested by the World Health Organisation and used in countries including Austria, Norway and Sweden - Brits must observe a new 'one-metre plus' rule.

"At every stage, caution will be our watchword," Mr Johnson said

"We can change the two-metre social distancing rule from July 4."

He said the current rule "effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy, even without the other restrictions", and as a result called for a review two weeks ago.

"Where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should," he cautioned today.

"But where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of one-metre plus, meaning they should remain one metre apart while taking mitigations to reduce the rate of transmission."

Those mitigations could be as simple as wearing a face mask, or speaking to someone through a perspex screen. It could also involve being outside rather than inside, or sitting side-to-side.

What does the new 'one-metre plus' rule mean?

Boris Johnson today announced that the two-metre social distancing rule will be cut to 'one-metre plus' where necessary

Guidance will be issued to businesses which will say that if Brits are to be closer to each other than two metres, employers must:

  • Avoid seating employees face-to-face in offices by changing layouts
  • Reduce the number of people in enclosed spaces
  • Improve ventilation
  • Make use of protective screens
  • Ensure people use face coverings
  • Provide hand sanitiser for workers
  • Change shift patterns so people can work in set teams
  • Close non-essential communal spaces

In workplaces and elsewhere, these steps include reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, using protective screens and face coverings, providing hand sanitiser and changing shift patterns so people can work in set teams.

"We already mandate face coverings on public transport," he said.

While experts can't give a "precise assessment of how much the risk is reduced", they believe the mitigations make the new rule "broadly equivalent to the risk at two metres", Mr Johnson added.

The news comes during a speech in which the PM announced a huge step forward in lifting the lockdown.

He said the country will be open for business once again from July 4, with a whole raft of new freedoms for people to enjoy.

But he also warned that we are likely to see further flare-ups in the future, and said our new freedoms could be "reversible" should it be necessary.

"There is only one certainty - the fewer social contacts you have, the safer you will be," he warned.

Hotels, pubs, libraries, hairdressers and even caravan sites will be able to open from next month - but you can only use them with one other household.

But gyms, spas and nightclubs will remain shut as they still pose too much of a risk.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak had dropped a hint the rule could be canned on June 20, when he said Mr Johnson's upcoming review "will make an enormous difference" to businesses.

Scientists have said they are "totally comfortable with" the two-metre social distancing rule being reduced - but only if people sit side by side and wear face coverings as much as possible.

In Scotland and Wales the rule remains the same.

Brits must comply with the two-metre rule until July 4
Brits must comply with the two-metre rule until July 4

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