Boris Johnson has reportedly asked for a comprehensive review of the two-metre rule over fears keeping it in place could cost millions of jobs.
As well as scientific advisers, the Prime Minister is seeking advice from behavioural scientists and economists, the Mail on Sunday reports.
Mr Johnson faces mounting pressure from Tory MPs and the pub trade, who say they’ll go bust if the social distancing rule isn’t cut to 1.5m or 1m by the time pubs start reopening on July 4.
That’s despite warnings from scientists that cutting the distance significantly increases the risk of spreading the deadly disease.
Your risk of catching coronavirus is “10 to 30 times higher” at one metre away from someone, the government’s chief scientific advisor said last month.
Sir Patrick Vallance said standing one metre from someone gives the same risk in six seconds as a full minute at the recommended two metres.
A Government source told the MoS the move to reduce the distance would provide a “road map to unlock the economy” before the hospitality industry re-opens for business on July 4.
It comes amid fears that if it remains in place, the hospitality sector will be hit by millions of job losses when the government’s furlough payment scheme comes to an end.
Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, has previously said that if guidelines are not changed, an estimated 37,000 pubs and bars will not be able to re-open.
It is understood that the review will be run by Downing Street’s newly appointed Permanent Secretary Simon Case.
At the moment, Britain and Spain are the only countries in Europe which maintain that people should remain two metres apart to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a distance of three feet, or one metre.
Until now, Downing Street has emphasised people should still stay two metres from people from outside their household, despite lockdown easing.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Our progress in fighting coronavirus depends on everyone following the rules we have set out.
“This comprehensive review will examine how the two-metre rule works in practice, the scientific evidence and international comparisons, among other factors.”
It comes after the PM declared earlier this week to put the rule under “constant review”.
Mr Johnson said: “I’ve read many papers actually on the social distancing rule and it’s a very interesting point.
“I believe that those measures, the two-metre rule, need now to be kept under review.
“As we drive this disease down, as we get the incidence down, working together, I want to ensure we keep that two metre rule under constant review.”
The UK yesterday recorded its lowest Saturday death toll from coronavirus since lockdown began.
A total of 181 fatalities were reported, bringing the tragic overall death toll to 41,662 – although the true number is likely to be far higher, with some estimates standing at nearly 52,000.
Of these, 80 were reported in hospitals, with 67 in England, five in Scotland, six in Wales and two in Northern Ireland.