Majority of cabinet support reducing two-metre rule despite scientists warning against move

PUBLISHED: 13:03 09 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:12 09 June 2020

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire).

A majority of Boris Johnson’s cabinet support reducing the two-metre social distancing rule - despite government scientists ruling against the move.

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The prime minister is said to be pushing for the restriction to be dropped after the Financial Times reports a senior minister as claiming a “majority of the cabinet is definitely more inclined not to have an automatic two metre rule”.

They added: “If other countries can do one metre or 1.5 metres why can’t we? What’s so special about the UK?”

The relaxation of the rules would in theory make it easier for people to return to work, with the hospitality sector warning the current guidelines are impossible to police.

Ministers in support of reducing the rule are said to include chancellor Rishi Sunak, transport secretary Grant Shapps, and business secretary Alok Sharma.


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Any reduction in the rule would contradict the advice of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

A government source told the newspaper: “The scientists have been quite firm on this.

“At the moment SAGE is definitely not inclined to reduce the guidance.”

France, Denmark and China currently use a one-metre rule whilst Germany, Australia and the Netherlands use 1.5 metres.

Spain and Canada have retained the two-metre restrictions, with America using 1.8 metres.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has defended the two metre rule and said businesses and pubs may have to work around the guidelines when they re-open.

“We keep the two metre rule under review all the time and SAGE have been doing some work on this recently,” he told the latest Downing Street press conference.

“But, ultimately, it isn’t the rule that’s the challenge to the opening of hospitality in a safe way, it’s the virus.”

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