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Keep 2m distancing in face of commercial pressure, CIEH urges

WHO’s 1m advice is an ‘absolute minimum’.
02 June 2020 , Katie Coyne

CIEH has urged the government to keep the 2m physical distancing rule in place.

Some businesses have called for a reduction in minimum distancing from 2m to 1m, as the greater distance can make day-to-day operation difficult. Other countries have different rules: for example, Germany operates a 1.5m rule and the World Health Organization recommends a minimum 1m physical distancing.

But a new review of existing evidence from the Lancet medical journal has found that physical distancing of more than 1m was associated with a much lower risk of infection with COVID-19, compared with less than 1m. Modelling suggested that for every extra metre further away up to 3m, the risk of infection may halve.

CIEH Wales director Kate Thompson said: “The World Health Organization advice (for distances of at least 1m to be maintained to prevent the spread of coronavirus) has led to strong pressure from certain industries to reduce social distancing between individuals from the current 2m.

“However, this advice was only ever an absolute minimum, rather than a safe distance, and new evidence published today supports this longer distance.

“Protecting public health and avoiding the possibility of a second peak of infections should be key. It is therefore vital that the 2m rule is not reduced due to pressure from industry.

“We call on the government to stand firm in its stance on the 2m rule when it comes to social distancing, especially as the riskier businesses like pubs and hairdressers are set to reopen from next month.”

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