PM’s review of social distancing rules set to be delayed by Indian variant

PM's review of social distancing rules set to be delayed by Indian variant 1 The public will likely have to wait longer for details of the government's review of social distancing rules and its proposals for COVID certification due to the growth in cases of the Indian variant.

The public will likely have to wait longer for details of the government’s review of social distancing rules and its proposals for COVID certification due to the growth in cases of the Indian variant.

Downing Street signalled Boris Johnson would wait longer to unveil the plans, despite the prime minister having previously promised to provide details by the end of this month.

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Mr Johnson’s official spokesman on Monday said the review of social distancing rules would be published “as soon as possible based on the latest data, which will help inform us what measures we can take around certification”.

Asked to explain a delay from the PM’s initial timetable, the spokesman added: “I think it’s reasonable for a new variant such as this and the need to gather as much data as possible to inform our decisions.

“It’s right to take the time to get that information before making those final decisions.”

The spokesman also said the results of a review of COVID-19 certification in domestic settings – dubbed “COVID passports” – would be published “as early as possible”, but offered no set date.

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Both the review of social distancing rules and work on the possible use of coronavirus certification are due to be completed by the fourth and final step of the prime minister’s roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions, which is scheduled for 21 June.

Despite the growth in cases of the Indian variant, the government has been positive about the prospects of the final unlocking happening next month.

The four stages of England's lockdown lifting
Image: The four stages of England’s lockdown lifting

A decision is set to be announced on 14 June as to whether England will proceed to stage four of the roadmap.

Earlier this month, the prime minister predicted the “one-metre plus” rule for social distancing could be scrapped at stage four.

“When it comes to social distancing from 21 June, I look at the data very carefully and I think at the moment it looks to me as though we may be able to dispense with the one-metre plus rule,” Mr Johnson said at a Downing Street news conference.

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He promised to give more details “by the end of this month” – although that timetable now appears to have slipped.

Scrapping the “one-metre plus” rule could allow pubs, restaurants and other venues to operate at larger capacities and serve more customers.

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