There is a “good chance” that England’s “one metre plus” COVID-19 social distancing rule can be scrapped on June 21, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
“I think we’ve got a good chance, a good chance of being able to dispense with the one metre plus,” Johnson told reporters during a campaign visit to Hartlepool, referring to the social distancing rules currently in force in England.
On Sunday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said “some safeguards” may stay in place when legal restrictions end on June 21, such as continued use of masks and physical distancing.
Last month, government scientific advisers said the public should be able to remove face masks over the summer, but they cautioned that masks and possibly other measures may be needed next autumn and winter if CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases surge.
The UK’s hospitality industry has expressed concerns over the possibility of continued restrictions.
“We must wait to see the full detail of plans as any restrictions in venues will continue to impact revenue and business viability,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality.
“A return to unrestricted trading on June 21 is critical and will mean hospitality businesses [can] come off life support and be viable for the first time in almost 16 months,” she said.
The UK Cinema Association also said that it hopes face coverings will not be a continued requirement.
“We strongly believe that our exemplary record on safety—with not a single case of COVID traced back to a UK venue—and our ability to manage the movement of cinema-goers in modern, highly ventilated indoor environments offer ample evidence that any relaxation from June 21 can be undertaken safely without the need for further ongoing restrictions, including any requirement for face coverings,” said a spokesman.
It comes as the government announced the limit on the number of mourners who can attend funerals is to be lifted in England as part of the next stage of easing, expected to begin on May 17.
The ban on foreign holidays is also expected to be lifted for people in England from May 17. But Johnson said it is “important to be cautious.”
“We do want to do some opening up on May 17. But I don’t think that the people of this country want to see an influx of disease from anywhere else. I certainly don’t. And we’ve got to be very, very tough and we’ve got to be as cautious as we can whilst we continue to open up.”
PA contributed to this report.
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