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Ashford MP Damian Green calls for change to coronavirus social distancing rule

A Kent MP has called for the government to look into reducing the two-metre social distancing rule to help boost the economy.

Damian Green says the measures would be the "single biggest act" the government can do to make businesses in the UK viable.

Members of the public are currently required to keep 2m apart from each other
Members of the public are currently required to keep 2m apart from each other

The Ashford representative has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to follow the example of several other countries as lockdown measures continue to ease.

He said: "I think that we still need social distancing, it's been a vital part of keeping us safe.

"But as we ease the lockdown, the single biggest act the government can take that would make business viable would be to reduce the distance from two metres to one metre, as has been done in many other countries that have successfully confronted coronavirus."

The official World Health Organisation guidance on coronavirus is to socially distance from people of different households by at least one metre (three feet).

Several nations across the world, including France, Singapore and Denmark, have adopted a one-metre rule in line with this guidance.

Ashford MP Damian Green has called for the measure to be reduced. Picture: Andy Jones
Ashford MP Damian Green has called for the measure to be reduced. Picture: Andy Jones

Ex-cabinet minister Mr Green believes that it is vital to businesses across the country that the government aims to follow suit.

He said: "There are lots of businesses that are viable if they only have to have their workforce one metre apart that wouldn't be when they're two apart.

"This obviously applies with some manufacturing firms but especially for the hospitality industry.

"There are restaurant and pubs that say if they keep a two metre distance they can probably do around 30% of their business, which doesn't make them viable, but one metre can allow them to do 70% which would at least allow them to break even.

"There are huge important sectors that employ millions of people around the country that would be saved by this measure."

As new measures come into force on Monday allowing non-essential outlets to reopen, Mr Green says that he hopes the government can produce a plan that will reassure the public.

He said: "I don't want the government to do anything irresponsible and do it too soon.

"However, I would certainly like them to indicate that assuming the outbreak continues to go down that at some advanced stage in the next month we will move from two metres to one metre.

"I think people will need advanced notice of it so it's worth giving that, and that would give a lot of people hope and confidence that their jobs will still be there when the immediate rescue measures are taken off later this year."

Monday will also see members of public required to wear face masks on public transport, and Mr Green believes that they will have a big part to play in the future.

Anyone using public transport will have to wear a face mask from Monday
Anyone using public transport will have to wear a face mask from Monday

He explained: "I think masks will play an increasingly important role in the months ahead, I know the scientific evidence says that they make a small amount of difference but they do make some difference so it's worth doing.

"I think if people get into the habit of using them- as they will have to on public transport after next Monday- then it will keep us all safer, I think that does need to come along with the other unlocking measures that I would like to see."

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