Here’s what the Scottish government said about relaxing the 2m rule in Scotland

Thursday, 11th June 2020, 12:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th June 2020, 2:07 pm
It is feared relaxing the rule would increase the risk of the virus spreading (Photo: Shutterstock)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to keep the two metre social distancing rule in place in Scotland, despite calls for relaxations south of the border.

The UK government is facing increasing pressure to ease the restriction, with some MPs arguing it is essential for the economy.

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Why won’t the rule be changed?

Ms Sturgeon has said that all of the evidence and advice she has been given recommends keeping the two metre distance in place for the time being.

Her assertion to maintain the current advice comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised on Wednesday (10 June) that he would keep the rule “under constant review”.

The UK government has faced calls to relax the restriction to help open up the economy, allowing pubs, restaurants and cafes to recover and fully reopen to customers.

It is also hoped that an easing of the rule will allow all schools in England to fully reopen by September.

However, Scotland’s chief medical officer has warned against changing the current two metre distance, saying it would increase the risk of the virus spreading.

Dr Gregor Smith insisted that the social distancing guidance is “balanced and sensible”, and is based on the best available scientific advice.

Ms Sturgeon maintained the rule would not yet be reduced in Scotland, even if it is relaxed south of the Border, and said she is “optimistic” that the country will enter phase two of the lockdown exit plan next week.

Scotland will conduct its next lockdown review on 18 June, after which a number of changes could be made to current restrictions.

What is the WHO guidance?

The official guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is that people should maintain at least a one metre (3 feet) distance from other people.

Keeping just a one metre distance between other people is considered safe according to WHO guidance, leading several countries to follow the renewed advice.

A study published in the medical journal The Lancet concluded that keeping at least one metre apart from other people could be the best way to limit the chances of infection, with the risk estimated to be 13 per cent within this distance.

The infection risk was only found to increase by three per cent beyond this distance, with the study stating that for every extra metre of distance up to three metres, the risk is further reduced by half.

France, China, Denmark and Singapore are among the countries that are advising people to only keep one metre apart.

Meanwhile Australia, Germany and Italy have a 1.5 metre rule in place, while the US has set the limit at 1.8 metres.

The UK, Canada and Spain are currently still advising people to keep two metres apart, despite fears it could damage the economy by making it difficult for many businesses, including pubs and restaurants, to reopen.

Scotland’s tourism chiefs expressed fears on Wednesday (10 June) that keeping the two metre rule could cost “tens of thousands of jobs” unless it is changed.

The hospitality sector also said it would force many venues to operate at a “completely unviable” 30 per cent of capacity.