FM to consider changes to two-metre distancing next week

Nicola Sturgeon has asked her scientific advisory group to explore the issue ahead of a July 2 review.

Nicola Sturgeon has sought fresh advice on whether two-metre social distancing could be relaxed ahead of a possible decision next week.

The First Minister said the Scottish Government continues to support the two-metre rule at present.

But she said she had asked her scientific advisory group to explore “in what settings, in what circumstances and with what additional mitigations” the distance might be reduced.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced physical distancing would be relaxed in England to “one metre plus” from July 4.

Addressing MPs, he also said English pubs and restaurants would be allowed to open indoors and outdoors from that same date provided public health guidance is followed.

The Scottish route map out of lockdown suggested beer gardens and outdoor hospitality might have been able to resume work in phase two, which Scotland entered last week.

But Sturgeon postponed giving a date for their reopening ahead of a further review next Thursday.

The July 2 review of the evidence on Covid-19 transmission in pubs, restaurants and gyms will also look at the physical distancing issue, she confirmed on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, the FM said she will give a “general update” on the progress on easing lockdown on Wednesday.

The statement will include “indicative dates” for the implementing of certain measures and phases with “all being well”.

The First Minister said: “We are still taking and will continue to take a cautious approach.

“Our aim remains maximum suppression of this virus because that is what will give us the firmest foundation to face whatever comes ahead.”

She continued: “The Scottish Government is clear that the advice and evidence we have right now supports physical distancing at two metres in order to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

“But we have asked in what settings, in what circumstances and with what additional mitigations it might be possible to accept the risk of people not keeping to a two-metre distance.

“That advice will be available by July 2 ahead of our decisions on moving from phase two to phase three.

“Until then, the position here in Scotland remains the same. We are asking people to keep two metres physical distancing.

“Any changes from other parts of the UK, while we will look at the evidence underpinning those very carefully, will not apply here at this stage.”

Sturgeon told the briefing she would be announcing dates for moving to the next phases of the Scotland’s route map on Wednesday, earlier than planned.

She said: “Tomorrow, I’ll be able to provide further detail on the timing of some of the specific steps in that journey.

“I’ll be able to do so tomorrow ahead of when I thought just a few days ago that might be possible.”

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