One-metre rule 'to be scrapped next month' to help pubs recover

The ‘one-metre plus’ social distancing rule is still set to be ditched next month, despite fears over the Indian coronavirus variant.

Despite fears the June 21 ‘freedom day’ date could be delayed if the spread of the strain isn’t kept under control, the prime minister has told Conservative MPs he is ‘confident’ about abolishing the measures next month.

The Times reports Boris Johnson told the 1922 Committee on Wednesday: He said: ‘We are hopeful we can do that at the end of the road map.’

But he added it depends on figures ‘continuing in the right direction’.

Mr Johnson said eliminating the measure was the ‘single biggest difference’ the Government could make to help the hospitality industry, and seemed keen to press ahead with the lifting of restrictions.

The one-metre plus rule has left many pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and other hospitality businesses financially unviable, industry leaders previously warned.

As they have to keep customers separated while serving them, it means they can’t fit as many people on their premises.

This has meant many hospitality venues have had to keep their doors closed through the pandemic.

It comes as the UK’s daily death toll from Covid-19 has fallen by more than a third in a week, with only seven victims yesterday.

Yesterday’s infections were up slightly to 2,874 – a rise of about 8% from the previous week – but the national case rate has remained stable since April.

And more than 37 million people have now received the first dose of a vaccine, which is the equivalent of more than 70% of all adults.

Last week the PM said more announcements would be made regarding social distancing and masks ‘before the end of the month’.

He said a return to normality would depend on the Indian variant remaining under control after infections have surged in several areas.

‘I think we have to wait a little bit longer to see how the data is looking but I am cautiously optimistic about that and provided this Indian variant doesn’t take off in the way some people fear, I think certainly things could get back much, much closer to normality,’ he told reporters.

Mr Johnson said ministers will ensure they follow the data when making a firm decision about the June 21 final unlocking date.

‘If we have to do other things, then of course the public would want us to rule nothing out,’ he added, ‘We have always been clear we would be led by the data.

‘At the moment, I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on June 21, everywhere, but there may be things we have to do locally and we will not hesitate to do them if that is the advice we get.’

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