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'Good chance' one-metre plus social distancing can be scrapped next month, PM says
3 May 2021, 13:22 | Updated: 4 May 2021, 15:00
There is a "good chance" that one-metre plus social distancing restrictions can be removed after June 21, Boris Johnson has said.
Speaking during a campaign visit in Hartlepool, the PM said: "I think we've got a good chance, a good chance, of being able to dispense with one-metre plus."
He added that the result of the successful vaccine rollout, which has now seen 50 million doses given out with a quarter of adults having received two jabs, was "really starting to show up in the epidemiology".
The relaxation of further restrictions on 17 May looks likely to go ahead, the PM said. This would permit up to six-people to meet indoors for the first time this year.
In a move that would be widely welcomed by hospitality and events industry, Mr Johnson also hinted that social distancing rules could be dispensed with from next month.
He told reporters: "It also looks to me as though June 21 we'll be able to say social distancing as we currently have to do it, the one-metre plus, I think we have got a good chance of being able to dispense with the one-metre plus from June 21.
"That is still dependent on the data, we can't say it categorically yet, we have got to look at the epidemiology as we progress, we have got to look at where we get to with the disease
"But that's what it feels like to me right now."
Labour have said they would welcome the move if it supported by the scientific advice.
Addressing the question during a campaign trip to support London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: "I think all of us want to see the restrictions eased, of course we do. But we also want to make sure that we don't go into another lockdown, so we have to be cautious and careful.
"I will listen to what the scientists say, there are a number of weeks to run until the 21 June. I hope we get to a situation where we can ease restrictions, but we have got to be led by the scientists on this."
Over the weekend pilot events were held to assess how music festivals and clubs could begin to reopen.
Around 5,000 people descended on Sefton Park in Liverpool on Sunday evening for the outdoor gig, while thousands packed a club in Liverpool on Friday and Saturday night.
They all had to produce negative coronavirus tests to enter but did not have to wear face coverings or follow social distancing rules.
Hospitality leaders have said a move to unrestricted trading from 21 June is "crucial" and would allow firms to "come off life support".
"A return to unrestricted trading on June 21 is critical and will mean hospitality businesses (can) come off life support and be viable for the first time in almost 16 months," said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality.
"We urge the government to confirm reopening dates and these plans at the earliest opportunity, which will boost confidence and allow companies to step up planning and bring staff back."