Coronavirus: Government adviser questions science behind two-metre social distancing

Yahoo News UK
People have been advised to stay two metres apart (Picture: Getty)
People have been advised to stay two metres apart (Picture: Getty)

The two-metre social distancing rule for coronavirus was “conjured up out of nowhere”, a government adviser has claimed.

Authorities have told people to stay at least two metres apart when out in public but this distance has been questioned by Robert Dingwall from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag).

Nervtag is one of the organisations that feed information into the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which is a crucial part of the government’s COVID-19 response. 

Nottingham Trent University sociology professor Dingwall told Radio 4's Today: “We cannot sustain [social distancing measures] without causing serious damage to society, to the economy and to the physical and mental health of the population.

'I think it will be much harder to get compliance with some of the measures that really do not have an evidence base. 

“I mean the two-metre rule was conjured up out of nowhere.”

Read more: NHS doctor urges stop stealing from hospitals during coronavirus pandemic

People walking and relaxing in Kensington Gardens, London (Picture: Getty)
People walking and relaxing in Kensington Gardens, London (Picture: Getty)

Dingwall said there was a certain amount of scientific evidence for a one-metre distance but there’s never been a scientific basis for two metres.

He called it a “kind of a rule of thumb” and said there wasn’t rigorous scientific literature that it is founded on.

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Ministers have not set out an exit strategy to the current lockdown, despite coming under pressure to do so.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told Radio 4’s Today programme that easing the UK’s lockdown depended on the speed at which the number of new cases of Covid-19 falls and that is as yet “unknown”.

Read more: Nearly 90% of Brits say they're coping well during the COVID-19 outbreak

Meanwhile, people may be permitted to see ten friends or family members as lockdown restrictions for coronavirus are eased, according to a report from Mail Online.

The government is looking at plans for the next stage of the pandemic which involve small groups being allowed to meet up.

People would be allowed to select an unchangeable list of friends and family they wanted to meet for meals and social activities.

A Whitehall source said: “If we can find a way to allow a bit more flexibility without risking transmission of the disease running higher then we will do it.”

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