BORIS JOHNSON has said ‘watch this space’ over social distancing, with the two-metre rule widely expected to be scrapped this week.
The prime minister will tomorrow announce the result of a review of the restriction, which places severe restraints on the hospitality sector.
It looks increasingly likely to be reduced to ‘one-metre plus’ as pubs and restaurants prepare to reopen.
But Mr Johnson (pictured) said he was staying cautious and ‘sticking like glue’ to his road map for easing the lockdown.
In a Downing Street interview, the prime minister said: ‘The disease is increasingly under control and I just want people to reflect on that important fact. It’s going down — we are getting it down.
‘So, of course, as we make that progress it will be possible to open up more and you will be hearing more about what we want to do with not just non-essential retail but with the hospitality sector from July 4 and we’re sticking absolutely like glue to the road map, to the plan that I set out on May 10. But it’s very important we don’t lose our vice-like grip on the disease — we’ve got to keep it on the floor where we’ve got it.
‘On the progress on social distancing, watch this space and you won’t have much more to wait now. You’ll certainly be hearing more this week.’
Ministers believe that after three months of lockdown, cases of coronavirus are low enough to allow further easing in order to boost the economy. The health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘We’re clearly on track for that plan because (of) the number of cases coming down.’ Acknowledging that ‘a lot of the country does need a haircut’, he said he is ‘not going to rule out’ hairdressers and barbers being allowed to reopen on July 4.
Later, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hancock spoke in more depth about proposals for reducing social distancing. He gave perspex screens, masks and altered seating arrangements as examples and floated the idea of pub and bar visitors signing a guest book to make tracing them easier.
The official UK Covid-19 death toll has risen by 43 to 42,632, the Department for Health and Social Care announced yesterday. However, the true toll is thought to have passed 53,000.