THE controversial two-metre social distancing rule appears to have been relaxed after official government guidance told firms they must only follow it “where possible”.
It gives employers wriggle room on operating the two-metre social distancing – amid fears the previous strict guidance was deterring workplaces and shopfloors from reopening.
The tweaks offers hope to the hospitality industry by signalling that the Government is poised to relax the social distancing rules further in time for pubs and restaurants to reopen from July 4.
The updated guidance advises companies to take “all reasonable steps” to maintain two-metre distancing in workplaces and shopfloors.
But it has watered down the language on previous guidance that two-metres must be maintained at all times, saying it must now only be maintained “where possible”.
The official government guidance suggests six measures to mitigate the risk where two-metres cannot be maintained, including limiting contact time to “as short as possible”, seating staff “back-to-back or side-to-side” and staggering arrival and departure times.
The Department for Business insisted there had been no major changes to the guidance and it remained the case that if employers cannot meet the 2m social distancing requirement then they should consider other mitigating actions.
Yesterday the boss of the UK’s largest zoo said the two-metre distancing rules is threatening the future of the industry.
Dr Dominique Tropeano, of Colchester Zoo, said that in a normal summer season the Essex attraction could expect 5,000 to 6,000 visitors per day. But the number is currently limited to around 2,000 to comply with social distancing guidelines, he said.
Meanwhile a YouGov survey found a half of UK businesses plan to lay off staff within three months of the furlough scheme ending.
Some 31 per cent of business leaders said a fifth or more of their staff could go.
Only a third of firms said they are confident they will not have to get rid of anyone.
Meanwhile another poll by Ipsos MORI showed two in five employees have concerns about their job security.