Social distancing 'could be increased to three metres' to stop Covid spread

The Prime Minister has been urged to increase social distancing to three metres as coronavirus cases continue to soar across the UK.

Experts from the Sage advisory committee want the guidance changed from ‘one metre plus’ to ‘two metres plus’, according to reports.

The move, in effect, would change the limit to three metres (almost 10ft), the Daily Mail claims.

Several members of Sage say the third national lockdown must be tougher than the first one in March in order to stop the spread of mutant strains.

The idea of a ban on people leaving their homes was allegedly raised at one meeting, as ministers fume over those using their ‘daily exercise’ as a chance to meet friends for coffee.

One source said: ‘If it means limiting people to a single one-hour walk on their own once a week that is what we must do. We cannot let a few selfish idiots put the whole country in danger.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday he would ‘not rule out further action if needed’.

However, a Downing Street spokesman has denied there are immediate plans to introduce a new three-metre rule.

In a statement released last night, he said: ‘There are no current plans to change social distancing rules. However, everything is kept under review.’

It comes as Boris Johnson warns he will impose tougher lockdown measures ‘if we feel that things are not being properly observed’.

Ministers are said to be considering telling supermarket bosses to get tougher on social distancing restrictions, tightening exceptions to the ‘stay at home’ order and making masks mandatory in crowded outdoor environments.

Millions were reassured yesterday as the Government ruled out scrapping support bubbles.

The PM said on Monday ‘now is the moment for maximum vigilance’ as the UK approaches the peak of the current Covid wave.

England Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has warned the UK has not yet hit the peak, with the next few weeks expected to be ‘the worst’ of the pandemic for the NHS.

The total number of deaths since the crisis began stands at 81,960, while confirmed infections have now hit 3,118,518.

Mr Johnson told reporters yesterday: ‘I think what Chris Whitty had to say this morning was absolutely right. This is a very perilous moment because everybody can sense that the vaccine is coming in and they can see that the UK is vaccinating large numbers of those that need it most. 

‘My worry is, and Chris’s worry is, that this is the moment when that degree of false confidence, false complacency, and that when you look at what has happened in the NHS that complacency is not merited.

‘More important than us just pushing out new rules, people have got to follow the guidance.’

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