Sunak Tells Britons to Go Shopping and Questions 2-Meter Rule

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak backed calls to ease the U.K.’s 2-meter social distancing rule to help the stalled economy get back to work, as he urged Britons to go shopping again.

The government is conducting a “comprehensive review” of the regulation that requires people to remain 2 meters (6 feet 7 inches) apart in public to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus. He said he understood why sectors such as the hospitality industry want the rules to be eased in the U.K. as other countries had done.

“It’s important that we look at it,” Sunak said in an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News on Sunday. “Now that we have made good progress in suppressing the virus, we’re at a different stage of this epidemic than we were at the beginning, and that enables us to take a fresh look at this.”

The chancellor said the fact the U.K. economy shrank 20% in April showed “the scale of the impact” the pandemic has had. As non-essential stores prepare to open again from Monday, he said consumers did not need to be “anxious” about returning to shops.

“It is a safe environment and we should all be able to go out knowing that,” Sunak said.

He also insisted he was focused on performing his current job as finance minister and not thinking about leading the ruling Conservative party. “At the moment we are all pulling together in one team.”

— With assistance by Edward Evans

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