Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said a review ordered by Boris Johnson of the two-metre social-distancing rule will look at the issue “in the round”.
Mr Sunak said it will involve economists as well as the Government’s scientific advisers as ministers consider whether it is possible to ease the restrictions.
“The Prime Minister has put in place a comprehensive review of the two-metre rule. That review will involve the scientists, the economists and others so that we can look at it in the round,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
“You are right to highlight the impact it has on business – it is the difference between maybe three-quarters and a third of pubs opening, for example, so it is important we look at it.
“Obviously many other countries around the world use a different rule. We have seen a couple of countries recently – Norway and Denmark – have moved from two metres to something less.
“It is important that we look at it comprehensively, in the round, and that is what we will do urgently.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the two-metre social distancing rule should only be relaxed if the science backs such a move.
He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show: “It should be reduced if the evidence indicated that it should be.
“This is where we need to be so careful because the public health position and the health of the economy go together. There’s no point seeing them in conflict.”
Mr Thomas-Symonds added: “If it did move to one metre without there being scientific advice backing that you would end up with a second peak, which would cause even greater economic damage.
“My message to the Government is to be vigilant, be cautious, approach this in a structured way and publish the evidence so we can all see it, and we can get that restoration of confidence in the public health advice that the Dominic Cummings affair did so much damage to.”