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Two metre rule could be relaxed raising hopes pubs can reopen

Two metre rule could be relaxed and is under frequent review raising hopes more pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen as lockdown eases

  • Yvonne Doyle said the UK took ‘cautionary’ approach compared to other nations
  • She claimed the policy is being reviewed to see if the distance can be reduced
  • Two metre rules are currently a huge obstacle for businesses in hospitality
  • JD Wetherspoon today revealed £11m plan to reopen its 875 pubs within weeks
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Plans to ease the two-metre social distancing rule will continue to be reviewed, public health leaders have said, raising hopes that more pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen.

Public Health England’s medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle told MPs that the UK had taken a ‘cautionary’ approach to introducing the rule when other countries were using shorter distances.

She told the Science and Technology Select Committee today that until more is known about how coronavirus is transmitted, the two-metre rule was ‘important’.

Staff at the Greenwich Tavern in Greenwich, London, start selling takeaway alcohol from a window directly out onto the street today

Staff serve takeaway drinks outside the Althorp pub, in Wandsworth, London today

Public Health England’s medical director Professor Yvonne Doyle told MPs today the two-metre social distancing rule will continue to be reviewed to see if it can be reduced

But when asked why the UK had decided on two metres when other countries like France, China and Hong Kong advised one metre, she said it will continue to be reviewed to see if it can be reduced.

Doing so would represent a huge boost for hard-hit industries such as hospitality, which are crucial to aiding Britain’s economic recovery. 

If the guidelines were relaxed, it would allow pubs, restaurants and hotels to welcome more people into their venues than what would be permitted under current social distancing guidance.

Tables could be moved closer together in restaurants, pubs could allow more people at the bar and hotels would be able to increase the numbers of visitors, all helping to drive profits and kick start their businesses.   

Prof Doyle said: ‘We are aware of the international differences and I am sure this will be the subject of continued investigation as to whether two metres is actually necessary or whether that can be reduced further.’ 

Easing lockdown measures was an ‘important decision’, she said, but also a trade-off between the needs of the economy and businesses and the anxieties of the public.

She added: ‘It is an important decision… and we are fully aware of that.

‘On one side we are aware of the requirements of the economy and business and on the other side we are aware of the concerns and anxieties of the population.

‘This is a trade-off, it is a balance, but you are quite right the science should inform the measures as we go forward.’

It comes as JD Wetherspoon today revealed its £11million masterplan to reopen its 875 pubs within weeks – and while the blueprint promises social distancing there is no mention of the two-metre rule.

The chain closed in March despite its chairman Tim Martin claiming the lockdown ‘wouldn’t save lives’ and the millionaire Brexiteeer also blasted Boris Johnson for not adopting a herd immunity policy.

With pubs expected to reopen in July, Wetherspoons drinkers will be told ‘not to meet in large groups’ and will be expected to sanitise their hands on arrival and at other times during their visit using dispensers dotted around the pubs. 

Wetherspoons will be very different places when they reopen and the pub chain has said it will spend £11million getting them ready

This is what a JD Wetherspoon pub bar will look like when they reopen with a screen to keep staff and drinkers apart


Customers will be asked to sanatise their hands on arrival – and throughout their visit – and pubs will have banners explaining the rules 

They will follow one-way systems to the toilets and through the bar where the tills will be screened off to protect staff likely to be wearing masks, gloves and eye protection, the chain said.

Staff will hand over all drinks holding the base of the pint or wine glass and when ordered via a smartphone they will be delivered to the table on a tray for the customers to take themselves to reduce the chances of spreading Covid-19. Families will be asked to keep children seated and always accompanied to the toilet.

The 875 pubs in UK and Ireland will open during its usual hours of 8am to around 1am and encourage customers to order using its app with posters put up telling them ‘there is no need to visit the bar’. But people can pay by cash or card at the till if necessary and must not move any furniture.

Drinkers will be encouraged to use many of the chain’s large gardens but inside tables will be surrounded by screens to ensure social distancing. The chain’s food menu will be pared back and condiment bottles removed and replaced with sachets to prevent coronavirus spreading via shared ketchup, mayonnaise and vinegar.

Every pub will also have a member of staff employed to sanatise the pubs, concentrating on door knobs, card machines and hand rails.

Catherine Noakes, professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds, told the committee today there was very little evidence of outdoor transmission of the virus.

She added: ‘The chances of you being able to inhale enough in an outdoor environment is very, very small.’

But she said that the two-mete rule was not over-precautionary because there was evidence of virus transmission within that distance.

Prof Noakes added: ‘It may be over-precautionary but actually it’s not, particularly when you are face to face with somebody.

‘There’s certainly evidence that people within two metres are able to be affected.’

Their comments come after the chief executive of a brewery warned that pubs will go bankrupt if staff and customers have to keep two metres apart.

Andy Wood of Adnams brewery said the two-metre social distancing rule will make it ‘very difficult’ for pubs to operate and suggested a reduction to one metre as long as it does not come at the expense of people’s safety.

Restaurants such as Bella Italia, pictured, have been closed but could reopen if social distancing rules are relaxed

Restaurants such as Cafe Rouge in Woking, Surrey, remain closed during the lockdown

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) told the PA news agency that if the UK followed the World Health Organisation’s advice of imposing a one-metre distance it would ‘enable many more pubs to viably reopen and serve their communities again’.

But after concluding a review, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has advised ministers that the two-metre rule should stay.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said that for many pubs, implementing a two-metre rule will be ‘impossible’ and mean they are closed for much longer.

‘Reopening in July will be great for those pubs who can meet the social-distancing measures required by then,’ she said.

‘However, it must be recognised that no two pubs are the same and for many, ensuring a distance of two metres will be impossible, keeping them closed for much longer.

‘Actioning advice from the WHO for example to use one metre for social distancing from July would enable many more pubs to viably reopen and serve their communities again.

‘We stand ready to work with the Government to help pubs reopen in a safe and financially viable way as soon as possible.’

Sunetra Gupta, a professor at the University of Oxford, claims there is a ‘strong possibility’ pubs and restaurants may be able to reopen immediately

Sunseekers were seen in Brighton yesterday, on the hottest day of the year so far, carrying drinks away from bars in takeaway cups

Earlier this week, a top scientist suggested pubs and restaurants may be safe to reopen immediately without risking a spike in the infection rate.

Sunetra Gupta, a professor at the University of Oxford, claims there is a ‘strong possibility’ businesses would be able to welcome customers once more, and avoid the kind of catastrophic consequences the government has warned could occur if lockdown restrictions aren’t eased in steady phases. 

Furthermore, she claimed long-term social distancing in fact makes the public more vulnerable to infectious diseases, by keeping them unprotected from pathogens. 

A study by Imperial College London, led by Professor Neil Ferguson, warned in March as many as half a million people could die in the UK if a strict lockdown wasn’t enforced.

However, Professor Gupta and her team at Oxford produced an alternative model, suggesting that half of all Brits could have already been exposed to Covid-19 and that the true infection fatality rate may be as low as 0.1 per cent. 

The study was controversial, but two months on, the scientist stands by the findings. 

She told Unherd: ‘I think there’s a chance we might have done better by doing nothing at all, or at least by doing something different, which would have been to pay attention to protecting the vulnerable, to have thought about protecting the vulnerable 30 or 40 years ago when we started cutting hospital beds.

‘It seems to me that given that the costs of lockdown are mounting, that case is becoming more and more fragile.’  

As lockdown measures were eased slightly last week, Brits have made their way to parks and beaches to take advantage of the recent warm weather.

Local businesses are also making the most of the opportunity after sunseekers were seen this week carrying drinks away from bars in takeaway cups.

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World News

UK's 2metre rule here to stay despite warnings from businesses it could cripple them

THE UK’s two metre rule is here to stay despite warnings from businesses it could cripple them.

Business leaders have claimed companies will go bankrupt if the rule is not relaxed but it has now been endorsed by the Sage scientific panel.

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According to The Times, the experts have told ministers it has to stay as changing it could be confusing.

Sage estimates that six seconds of exposure at one metre posed the same risk as a minute at two metres.

Having someone cough on you from two metres is as dangerous as talking for 30 minutes at the same distance as one minute at one metre.

Yesterday Downing Street insisted it had no plans to change the “sensible and safe distance”.

Other experts have demanded greater flexibility and argued that allowing people to be closer for shorter periods is just as safe.

Pub landlords have demanded that the two-metre social distancing rule is halved because it could leave over 37,000 boozers unable to open.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, warned that “at two metres you’re probably looking at only 20 per cent of pubs being able to operate” but a one-metre rule “would put the majority of pubs back in play”.

Edwin Morgan, of the Institute of Directors, claimed “maintaining two metres’ distancing will be difficult for many firms, and impossible for some”.

Keeping the scheme was also bashed by Robert Dingwall of Nottingham Trent University, who sits on the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group.

He said: “Sage are supposed to be focused on the science — which does not support the two-metre rule.

“I don’t see a problem with changing the message or that there is necessarily any likely confusion.”

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith this week claimed Britain needed to slash the distance people must be apart to get the nation back in work.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the prominent backbencher warned unemployment depends on how quickly the economy starts back up again.

He said: “We need to get that moving as quick as possible and I've certainly been arguing that for some weeks now.

“We're the only country certainly in Europe that I know of that uses the two-metre rule.

“I think when it comes to the hospitality sector, I think we do need to look at it very carefully.

“So we do need to look at how they manage that process and give them some flexibility.”

Current Government guidance says you must be two metres away from anyone not in your household.

The World Health Organisation recommends at least one metre, which is the rule followed in Spain, Italy, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

In Germany, Poland and the Netherlands the distance is 1.5 metres, with just the UK, Switzerland and US staying two metres apart.

Earlier this month the Government’s chief scientific adviser warned that coronavirus transmission is significantly higher at one metre apart.

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Categories
Lifestyle

Signs the no contact rule isn’t working

Many of us struggle to completely cut off an ex after a breakup. After all, you’ve shared a lot experiences together, whether good or bad. Your lives have likely also become intertwined with friends and family and it can be hard to completely sever ties with someone you once cared so much about. If you’re struggling with the no contact rule, we’re here to help. 

But first, let’s define what the no contact rule officially is. Dating and breakup coach Lee Wilson told Cosmopolitan, “The no contact rule is where you don’t call, text, or message an ex in any way after the breakup. It includes not talking to their friends or family about them or the breakup itself.” Wilson says this can last as little or as long as you want it to. 

However, if you’re obsessing after a breakup, this rule isn’t working. If you’re questioning daily what went wrong, constantly worrying if your ex has found someone else, or if you’re agonizing over what you did wrong, you’re likely panicking. Psychologist Deborah L. Davis says these feelings are normal after a breakup and said daily affirmations can help. She says it’s important to remember this mantra: “My distress is a result of brain chemistry and I’m not crazy. Just temporarily off balance” (via Psychology Today).

Try to get back to your normal routine

This method is also not working if after you’ve agreed on no contact you’re still putting your life on pause. If you’ve been wallowing in the past and not participating in fun activities, something needs to change. “Being productive and structured gives you a sense of consistency and safety after having the upheaval of the breakup,” relationship expert Lisa Concepcion told Bustle. “Think about it, people break up and after feeling blah for a few weeks, something kicks in where they want to be productive.” So use this time to create a new healthy routine, go out with friends, or pick up a new hobby. It’s important to remember what life was like before you met your ex.

After getting back into a normal and fulfilling schedule it can be easy to think you’re completely over something and fall back into bad habits. It’s kind of like being on a diet for 30 days and deciding to eat junk food again. You likely won’t keep those pounds off and end up right back where you started. It’s a slippery slope. Resist that urge to call, text, or message until the urge no longer remains.

Remember that ultimately things will get easier with time — just be patient and let yourself heal.

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World News

Vladimir Putin set to rule to another 16 YEARS after Russian parliament backs sweeping constitutional change – The Sun

VLADIMIR PUTIN has laid out his plan to tackle the Russian constitution – and stay in power until 2036.

The Russian leader today said there could be a presidential 'reset' and run after his current term expires.

Putin, who has ruled Russia for more than 20 years, today laid out his plans on how he intends to hold onto power.

He told the lower house of State Duma: "This would be possible… if the constitutional court rules such an amendment would not go against (the constitution)."

A constitutional reform tabled by Valentina Tereshkova would make previous presidential terms void.

It would mean that Putin, 67, who was first elected in 2000, could run again after his current six-year term expires.

If he wins another term it would keep the Russian ruler in power until 2036.

He told lawmakers: "These amendments are long overdue, they are needed, and I am sure they will be useful for society, for our citizens."

Putin appeared to suggest the country may not be reader for a new leader after calling for evolutionary change "because we have had enough of revolutions".

Putin said: "There will be a time when the highest power… will not be tied to one specific person.

"But all of our previous history happened in this way, and of course we cannot ignore this."

NEVER-ENDING TERMS

Putin today rejected a call for lifting the overall two-term presidential limit and also said it wasn't necessary to hold early parliamentary elections.

Putin’s current term ends in 2024 and at the moment he is not allowed to be president again as he has just served two consecutive terms.

He has held the top job in the Kremlin four times since he was first elected in 2000 but had to step down in 2008 because of current constitutional rules.

At the moment, there is no legal way for the 67-year-old to run again immediately, however speculation has been mounting about what could be done to keep him in power.

One of the options would be to change or scrap the number of presidential terms written in the current constitution.

Another would be to hand more powers to the government, parliament or a new body for Putin to lead.

Putin will barely be in his early 70s when his current term ends – younger than both President Donald Trump and his rival Joe Biden today.

Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, tweeted today: "It looks that after playing with ideas of State Council and Security Council Putin has finally decided in favour of running again in 2024."

Putin was re-elected in 2018, but his approval ratings have been falling as Russia's economy has been struggling.

Putin will barely be in his early 70s when his current term ends – younger than both President Donald Trump and his rival Joe Biden today.

And observers say there is little evidence power crazy Putin is preparing for a life of post-presidential leisure.

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