Boris Johnson has said there is a “good chance” the one-metre plus social distancing rule can be scrapped from 21 June.
During a campaign visit in Hartlepool, the prime minister told reporters: “I think we’ve got a good chance, a good chance, of being able to dispense with one-metre plus.”
Under the government’s roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions, 21 June is the date on which all legal limits on social contact are set to be removed.
But there have been suggestions that some separate measures – like social distancing and mask wearing – could continue beyond that point.
The government’s roadmap for relaxing coronavirus rules acknowledges that social distancing is “difficult and damaging for businesses and, as a result, it is important to return to as near to normal as quickly as possible”.
It adds: “Ahead of Step 4 [21 June], as more is understood about the impact of vaccines on transmission and a far greater proportion of the population has been vaccinated, the government will complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission.
“The results of the review will help inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which rules on 1m+, face masks and other measures may be lifted.”
The prime minister’s roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions applies to England, with the other UK nations drawing up their own guidelines.
Social distancing has been in place for more than a year because of the COVID pandemic.
The “one metre plus” rule, introduced last June when it was reduced from two metres, means members of the public can be one metre away from each other as long as other measures are put in place to limit the transmission of the virus.
If these are not possible then members of the public should be two metres away.
Possible mitigations include wearing a face covering, installing screens, making sure people face away from each other and providing extra handwashing facilities.