Sturgeon set to announce outcome of 2m distancing review

First Minister had asked scientific advisory group to explore how distance might be reduced.

Sturgeon set to announce outcome of 2m distancing review Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce later today whether the two-metre social distancing rule could be relaxed.

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

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced physical distancing would be relaxed in England to “one metre plus” from July 4 – that allows people to remain at least 1m apart as they take other steps to mitigate the risk of transmission.

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 today’s review, which has looked at evidence on Covid-19 transmission in pubs, restaurants and gyms, as well as the physical distancing issue.

The First Minister said last week the Scottish Government would continue to take a cautious approach.

She said: “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.

“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.”

Pub owners called for a review of the two-metre social distancing rule earlier this month as it was claimed it could see the loss of thousands of jobs in the sector.

Almost nine out of ten landlords responding to a survey, conducted by the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, claimed it is not financially viable for them to reopen their doors with the guideline still in place.

But national clinical director Jason Leitch said there was consensus on the two-metre guidance within the scientific community, adding there was “no magic distance that removes all risk from this virus”.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance has also called for social distancing rules to be relaxed.

A survey by the group found the majority of businesses in the hospitality sector are economically unsustainable if the two-metre rule remains.

The two surveys, which ran between June 16-21, focused on accommodation providers and restaurants, which are two of the largest employers within the sector.

Furthermore, councils’ representative body Cosla has said all work to reopen schools on August 11 is being done assuming two-metre distancing will be in place.

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