Boris Johnson relaxes social distancing measures claiming there isn’t ‘currently a risk of second peak’

PUBLISHED: 13:26 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:45 23 June 2020

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Boris Johnson in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Archant

Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced he is scrapping the two metre social distancing rule as part of an easing of lockdown restrictions, saying there is no “current risk” of a second coronavirus peak.

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Johnson told the Commons that people should still remain two metres apart “where it is possible” but that a “one-metre plus” distance would be enough in challenging circumstances.

“While we remain vigilant, we do not believe there is currently a risk of a second peak of infections that might overwhelm the NHS,” he said.

“Thanks to our progress, we can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England.”

Announcing the success of recent measures in suppressing the virus death rate, Johnson said the rule would be relaxed from July 4.

Johnson warned the public to remain cautious, warning the new guidelines may be overturned is cases begin to rise.

“At every stage, caution will remain out watchword and each step will be conditional and reversible,” he warned.

The move comes after retail and hospitality industries lobbied the government to relax the two-metre rule saying it made trade effectively ‘uneconomical’.

The prime minister said the seven-day death toll peaked in April at 943, recently dipping to 130 this week, which has warranted the change of health advice.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he welcomed the statement.

He said: “We will study the guidance, and there are obviously a number of questions that need to be answered, but overall I welcome this statement.

“I believe the government is trying to do the right thing and in that, we will support them.”

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