UK Politics: PM to reveal outcome of two-metre rule review this week

Boris Johnson will give an update on the government's strategy this week
The PM has said the virus is 'increasingly under control'
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Boris Johnson is set to announce on Tuesday if the two-metre social distancing rule can be relaxed in England. Tradefair brings you the latest from UK politics...

It's very important that we don't lose our vice-like grip on the disease."

- Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is due to make an announcement on Tuesday to reveal the findings of a review into the two-metre social distancing rule in England, which has been in place since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

The prime minister is also expected to confirm if hospitality businesses can start trading again from July 4, as part of the government's phased plan to gradually reopen society and the economy.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said England is "clearly on track" to further ease the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, but the government has also stressed that any changes will immediately be reversed if there are signs of a resurgence in the virus.

Reviewing the rules

Johnson is set to discuss possible changes to the rules in England with the Covid-19 Strategy Committee today, before giving an update in the House of Commons tomorrow.

Regarding possible easing of the two-metre distancing rule, security minister James Brokenshire said any decisions would be informed by scientific evidence, as well as lessons taken from other countries and developments around the world.

He told the BBC the understanding of how the virus is transmitted "has evolved over the last number of weeks", and the latest insights would be reflected in this week's review.

The potential reopening of hospitality businesses like pubs and restaurants from July 4 will also be considered.

Representatives of the industry and some Tory MPs have been urging the government to ease the social distancing requirement from two metres to one metre, because it would be impossible for the sector to operate otherwise.

Hancock has raised the possibility of measures such as customers having to register before entering a venue so they can be easily traced if they come into contact with someone with coronavirus.

Labour MPs have called for ministers to show transparency on the findings of this week's review.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said the opposition would only support the government in making changes if there are other measures in place regarding issues like face shielding, testing and tracing.

'Sticking like glue'

While further easing of lockdown restrictions is on the horizon, Downing Street has insisted it won't hesitate to revert to stricter rules if there are signs the virus is making a comeback.

Johnson said the disease is "increasingly under control", partly thanks to the "superhuman efforts of the British people" in maintaining social distancing. But he also insisted the government would be "sticking like glue" to the roadmap announced last month, which stated hospitality businesses would not be allowed to reopen until the start of July at the earliest.

"We're going step by step, making things easier for people, helping people to see more of each other, allowing more social contact and social interaction," the prime minister said.

"But it's very important that 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, so we've got to keep making those trade-offs."

Second wave fears spook markets

Despite the possibility of further steps towards economic reopening this week, European stock markets opened in negative territory on Monday morning over fears of a second wave in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organisation recorded the highest one-day increase in confirmed cases thus far over the weekend, with 183,000 new infections. This was driven by the ongoing spread of the virus in countries like Brazil, the US and India.

There was also concern over an increase in the viral reproduction rate in Germany.

London's FTSE 100 dropped by nearly 0.4% at the open and was still in the red towards the end of the morning session, despite staging a slight recovery.

Germany's DAX index and France's CAC 40 followed similar patterns, witnessing early falls of more than 1% before rebounding.

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