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Senior conservative lawmakers in the UK are reportedly urging Boris Johnson to change the two-meter social distance rule to 1.5m on the grounds that it can prevent large-scale redundancies, AP has reported.

While the prime minister spoke this week in support of a two-meter gap, The Daily Telegraph said fears were building that thousands of hotel industry workers who had so far been unable to return to work could be dismissed unless rules were immediately relaxed.

Greg Clark, chair of the Commons science committee and former business secretary, reportedly wrote a letter to Johnson urging him to relax the rules.

“The difference between two meters and 1.5 meters may seem small but it can be the difference between people who can go to work and lose their jobs,” Clark told the newspaper.

A former Brexit secretary, David Davis, said changes in government-supported leave schemes must be carried out “in line” with the relaxation of the two-meter rule.

He said some companies would be unfairly disadvantaged if they had to remain closed due to the two-meter rule while being forced to start paying staff costs again under a change of leave plan.

“What will happen is that they will be closed, meaning that leave money is wasted, and there will be no tax revenue from the business,” Davis was quoted as saying.

The Telegraph said Clark cited a new paper from the scientific advisory group on emergencies (Sage) which said it was possible to “allow distances of less than two meters” in certain areas, provided that other Covid-19 control measures were implemented.

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