Scottish Secretary calls for two metre distance rule to be halved

  • Scottish Secretary speaks to ITV Border at testing site in Moffat.

The Secretary of State for Scotland has said current two-meter social distancing guidance should to be relaxed as soon as possible to help kick start the UK's economy.

MP Alister Jack believes the distance should be cut to 1m as soon as is it safe to do so and with the go-ahead from SAGE.

He says the move is essential in ensuring the tourism and hospitality industry is financially viable when it restarts.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack visits a coronavirus testing centre in Moffat. Credit: PA

Mr Jack - who is also the MP for Dumfries and Galloway - was speaking to ITV Border on a visit to a mobile Covid testing centre in Moffat.

He said: "I stand by what the Government is saying - which is when the science permits it.

"But I don't think that we should take away from the fact that the World Health Organisation have said one metre is acceptable and many countries around the world are using one metre - and countries in Europe.

He continues: "I want SAGE to advise on it, but SAGE are looking at the different perimeter.

"It is about having less people in the community with Covid-19. And if you have less people with Covid-19, you've got less chance of catching it."

The UK and Scottish governments say the 2m rule is to make sure the virus continues to be suppressed and is in line with scientific evidence.

Credit: PA

During her daily briefing, the First Minister stressed the two-metre guidance would stay in place for now.

Speaking at Friday’s briefing, Sturgeon said: “These are not absolutes, there are trade-offs and balances that you have to strike and there is no absolutely risk-free distance.

“You know, three or four metres would be less risky than two metres, and two metres is less risky than one metre, and if you go to a shorter distance, face coverings and other mitigations might be necessary, so we’ve got to get these balances right.

“We also know that some of the settings where there may be the greatest economic and practical benefit from going to one metre are also the kind of settings where the risks of transmission are greater.

“So in crowded places where you might have to shout over noise to make yourself heard – that’s when the way you breathe can make it more risky.

“These are difficult judgements that we don’t close our minds to. There’s no ideological position in the government here that says ‘we’re going to stick to two metres, come what may’.

“This is all about getting the right balance into our decision-making so that we continue to suppress this virus.”

Credit: PA

Some business owners, like Stephen Winyard, from Stobo Castle, in the Scottish Borders, have argued that restrictions needs to be halved if the tourism industry is to restart successfully.

Speaking to ITV Border on Thursday, Mr Winyard said: "This measure will throw a lifeline to a sector that can then operate at a capacity that is viable, bearing in mind that these same businesses have been closed since the lockdown."

"If you take a restaurant, pub or hotel they would have to operate at a reduced capacity which would make it unviable for them to reopen, but by reducing it down to one metre it would make all the difference and allow them to make a living.

"I wouldn't even countenance reopening unless the social distancing is reduced by half."

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