“There’s all sorts of mitigations that you can put in place so that you can be physically closer than two meters but not have the transmission of the virus or the risk of transmission that you would otherwise have,” he added, citing Perspex screens and face masks.
Asked why government advisers had placed such emphasis in the past on the two-meter rule Hancock suggested that new knowledge about the virus meant it was possible to reduce the distance.
“Of course, we’re learning more about the virus all the time and the decisions that we take will be of course guided by the science as we have been throughout this,” said Hancock.
Peter Piot, the head of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the rule created a “false sense of security.” “I’m pretty relaxed as long as it is associated with mandatory wearing of face masks,” he said.
Piot added that the U.K.’s 14-day quarantine rule for returning travelers is “completely useless.”