London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has commissioned a review into the incumbent 2-metre social distancing rule imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, following calls to scrap it, it was reported on Sunday. Also Read - Coronavirus: After Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi, Health Minister Zafar Mirza Tests Positive
The review will aim to be completed by July 4, when pubs and restaurants could open at the earliest in England, the BBC reported. Also Read - Coronavirus: Centre Emphasizes on Increasing Testing, Many States Report Lower Positivity Rate | Top Developments
Currently, the UK government advises people to stay 2-metre apart from others to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Also Read - Coronavirus: Kerala Public Service Commission Postpones Interviews Scheduled Between July 7 and 10
This is further than the World Health Organization’s recommendation of at least 1 metre and some other countries like France and Denmark.
However, there are widespread concerns about the impact of the rule on the UK economy, which is already suffering from the pandemic.
Businesses and some of Johnson’s own MPs have also warned that large parts of the hospitality industry will not be viable with the 2-metre coronavirus rule in place.
Some bars, restaurants and pubs say they will be unable to make a profit if the 2m guidance is still in place when they reopen. Tourism firms have also warned of tens of thousands of job losses unless the distance is shortened.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the industry body UK Hospitality, has said that with a 2-metre rule, outlets would be only able to make about 30% of normal revenues, whereas 1m would increase that to 60-75 per cent.
Richard Caring, chairman of Caprice Holdings which runs the Ivy, told the Mail on Sunday the government was “killing the country”.
“There are estimates saying we could have up to five million unemployed,” the BBC quoted Caring as saying to the newspaper “It’s not going to be five million – it’s going to be more. I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet.”
Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee made up of backbench Conservative MPs, welcomed the review and said a move to 1-metre would be “essential”.
The review announcement comes as the COVID-19 cases in the UK has increased to 295,828, with 41,747 deaths, the highest in Europe.