Virologist: Decreasing social distancing to one metre is "reasonable thing to do"

14 June 2020, 09:40

By Seán Hickey

A virus expert said that the risk of contracting coronavirus in the UK is now low enough for social distancing to be reduced to one metre.

Dr Chris Smith is the presenter of The Naked Scientist podcast and is a Consultant Virologist at the University of Cambridge. He was speaking to Andrew as retailers across the country reopen their doors to the public on Monday, and whether the government revising social distancing to one metre is safe.

Andrew pointed out that regulations on how social distancing will be enforced is "varying from retailer to retailer" and wondered if Dr Smith saw this as an issue.

The bottom line for the consultant virologist was that "the main way in which coronavirus is transmitted, they're respiratory infections, so when someone breathes it out, coughs it out, sneezes it out" and stated that in retailers "you could pick up virus particles off that surface", but so long as you don't touch your face or mouth in this time you are safe.

"The dominant and far away most important way of spreading this virus is through the air" he told Andrew, he added that social distancing is "probably going to come down to one meter because it's more business viable."

Dr Smith believed that reducing social distancing is reasonable
Dr Smith believed that reducing social distancing is reasonable. Picture: PA

When Andrew asked if Dr Smith believed moving to one metre was safe, the virologist stated that "instinctively I have been always but I am reassured by more recent research."

He went on to call out information that is twisted to seem bad on the topic.

He confirmed that "decreasing social distancing from two metres to one metre brings risk up by 100%" but that only brings the risk up to 2.6%.

Dr Smith added that "the amount of virus in the population now is 0.06%" and this, to him, is low enough a number to be able to reduce social distance.

"Putting those two together is such a low number" he said, "it means it is a reasonable thing to do."

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