Currently, Britons are required to stay two-metres apart from other people, though the distance is said to be under review. The rule was put in place to help curb the spread of the virus, but a sociologist – who is a member of the Government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies (SAGE), has warned the measure could have catastrophic consequences for the UK economy. He made the comments after a medical study found physical distancing of at least one metre lowers the risk of coronavirus transmission, but distances of two metres could be more effective.
Commenting on the research, Professor Robert Dingwall said: “I think it’s a question of relative risk.
“Even the problematic Lancet study that was published last week was really saying you’re moving from a tiny risk at two metres to a very small risk at one metre.
“You have to set that against all the other harms that are being done by the, the economic devastation that is wreaked by the two-metre rule, the deaths that will be attributable to the lockdown itself, and to the social and economic disruption that is causing.”
It comes after a study by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) found the spread of coronavirus is “highly correlated” with the extent of air travel.
The report used the UK as an example of where a large number of domestic and international flights “facilitated contagion”.
The UK’s two-metre social distancing rule could cripple the economy, a scientist has warned
The study said: “The flow of air passengers across and within country borders has been a major contributor to the spread of the virus.”
Serge Stroobants, an IEP director, told the PA news agency: “The countries most impacted are countries that are really participating in global trade in the globalised world and the interconnected world.
“These are countries in which you will find a large airport hub, giving the potential to people to travel from one country to the other.
“That’s why, for example, the region of Milan in Italy, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, London and New York, those big international hubs created more exchanges and more potential for the virus to grow.”
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11.33am update: No date for test, track and trace app in UK
Matt Hancock has said he cannot say when he Government’s coronavirus contact- tracing app will be ready to launch.
The Health Secretary told the virtual CogX technology conference that trials of the app have been continuing on the Isle of Wight.
He said: “The app is progressing and we will launch it when the time is right. I am not going to put a date on it.”
Piers Morgan has been told to “shut up” by furious social media users after he criticised Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Morgan wrote on Twitter: “The irony of @BorisJohnson winning an election on a pledge to ‘take back control’ when he’s now completely lost control of this country through his mind-blowing dithering & incompetence… is amazing.”
But many social media users disagreed with the broadcaster’s criticism of the Prime Minister.
One person wrote: “No he hasn’t. We are all still behind Boris. Well done Boris… Keep up the good work.”
Another user: “Shut up Man for gods sake!”
10.43am update: Rishi Sunak says it’s a ‘tragedy’ pupils cannot return to school
The Chancellor has said that it is a tragedy that so many children will not be back in school until the autumn.
He told Sky News: “I personally think every day our children are not at school is a tragedy.”
Mr Sunak also warned the longer the economy is shut, the worse the implications are.
Piers Morgan has criticised Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic
10.12am update: UK’s economy ‘will be hardest hit’ by coronavirus
The UK economy is set to be the hardest hit by coronavirus among the world’s developed countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
In its latest global economic outlook, the OECD predicted Britain’s economy will slump by 11.5 percent in 2020.
It also forecast the world economy will contract by six percent, with all countries suffering a deep recession.
9.43am update: Widespread mask-wearing could prevent second wave of the virus
A new study has predicted the impact of population-wide mask wearing, and found it lowers the transmission of the virus.
The research, led by scientists at the Britain’s Cambridge and Greenwich Universities, suggests lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of coronavirus, but that even homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people wear them in public.
Richard Stutt, who co-led the study at Cambridge, said: “Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the public.”
9.18am update: Government’s approach to school is ‘absolute tragedy’
Former chief inspector of schools in England, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has said the Government’s approach to education has been an “absolute tragedy”.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “What’s happened over the last few weeks and months has been an absolute tragedy.
“And it’s been a tragedy for those youngsters who need school, need the structure of school, need the routine of school, need teachers who will be working with them, to support them when they get very little support at home.”
Sir Michael added: “I just don’t know how we’ve made such a mess of it, because headteachers, and I know lots of headteachers, will have been saying to the Department for Education, you’ve got this wrong.”
Widespread use of face masks could prevent a second wave of the virus, a study has found
9am update: Hundreds of jobs lost as Monsoon Accessorize shuts 35 stores
More than 500 jobs are set to be lost after Monsoon Accessorize entered administration, as the coronavirus pandemic hit sales.
The business expects to make 545 staff redundant as it closes 35 stores, despite Monsoon’s founder Peter Simon buying the business out of administration almost immediately.
However, the deal will transfer around 450 jobs to Adena Brands, owned by Mr Simon, which has promised to inject £15 million into the business to allow the remaining stores to stay open.
8.41am update: Fears over ‘mammoth’ hospital waiting lists
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, has warned that there are “mammoth” waiting lists for services, which will cause the health of patients to deteriorate in the long-term.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We do absolutely need to start tackling what is a mammoth waiting list problem but we’ve also got other services, for example services in the community and primary care and of course social care, that are under enormous amount of strain.
“And the ability to build things back up again is severely constrained by the fact we’re also treating Covid patients.”
8.13am update: 2-meter rule set to be reduced
Although Downing Street has said there will be no announcement that the two-metre social distancing rule will be eased today, there is growing optimism changes will be announced in due course.
Guidance issued to the hospitality industry does not specifically refer to the two-metre rule, and instead states that “wider spacing” between customers will be required, according to the Telegraph.
It is also thought pubs and restaurants could open under current guidance, before it is reduced in the coming weeks.
A Cabinet minister told the Times: “On balance it’s probably better to get as many businesses up and running as soon as possible rather than wait for when the rule drops to 1 or 1.5 meters.”
8am update: Boris Johnson to announce zoo reopening
Boris Johnson will announced the grand reopening of zoos and safari parks in the Commons today.
He will say the outdoor attractions can reopen as long as they follow social distancing rules.
The move will pave the way for zoos to reopen in England alongside non-essential shops, which can also open from 15 June.