// PM Boris Johnson announces social distancing rules in England to be relaxed to at least 1m from July 4
// BRC has welcomed the move, but trade union Usdaw has called for 2m to be maintained in shops
// The government also greenlit the reopening of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers from July 4
The UK Government has announced a relaxation of the two metre social distancing rule in England from July 4, the same date when other high street businesses like pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to exit lockdown and reopen.
In England, the physical distancing advice during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will be that people should keep a distance of at least “one metre-plus”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament today that the two metre rule “effectively makes life impossible for large parts of the economy”.
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”Where it is possible to keep two metres apart people should but where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of one metre plus,” he said.
“They should remain one metre apart while taking mitigations to reduce risk of spread of the disease.”
The government also said pubs, hairdressers and restaurants will be able to open from July 4.
Non-essential retail reopened its doors in England last Monday, while Wales reopened this week and Scotland will reopen next week. Northern Ireland reopened on June 12.
The BRC welcomed the PM’s announcement around relaxed social distancing limits, pointing to how it brought the country in line with World Health Organisation safety guidance.
“Retailers have worked hard to effectively implement social distancing measures during the pandemic and the safety of staff and customers will continue to be their main priority,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
“The reduction will support shops, which have faced limits to footfall – and therefore spending – as a result of the distancing measures.
“The reopening of restaurants, bars and other services will also help encourage people back to our high streets.
“This is vital to reviving our town centres and we hope the public plays their part in supporting our local high streets. Every purchase we make is a shop helped and a job supported.”
However, trade union Usdaw called for the two-metre distancing rule to be maintained in shops.
“Reducing the two-metre rule in stores could be disastrous for our members and send a message to the public that social distancing is over,” general secretary Paddy Lillis said.
“It has taken a lot of hard work and effort to make the changes to encourage customers to follow two-metre distancing in shops that stayed open throughout the lockdown.
”Non-essential retailers have also redesigned their stores on the basis of two-metre social distancing for their reopening.
“Changing the rules would be an unnecessary burden on business, compromise the safety of staff and customers, and create confusion.”