Coronavirus: MPs bound by 2m social distancing rules despite wider easing of lockdown measures

Lizzy Buchan
Reuters TV

Strict social distancing rules will remain in place in the House of Commons despite the introduction of the "one-metre plus" approach in England in the coming days.

MPs will be ordered to stay two metres apart in parliament until the end of the summer recess, with a review of the measures when the Commons returns in September.

The move is at odds with Boris Johnson's decision to ditch the two-metre rule in favour of a "one metre plus" approach as part of the most significant easing of lockdown measures yet.

From 4 July, pubs, hairdressers and holiday accommodation will begin opening up, with customers told to keep at least one metre apart and to take precautions such as wearing face coverings.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, previously ordered MPs to return to Westminster to "set an example" to the public, ending the hybrid proceedings that permitted many MPs to dial in virtually.

However the House of Commons Commission, which Mr Rees-Mogg sits on, decided to keep the two-metre rule in place after a meeting with Public Health England on Monday.

It is understood that Commons authorities decided the two-metre rule was preferable as extra precautions such as wearing masks would have made MPs difficult to understand.

A spokesperson for Mr Rees-Mogg said: "Jacob's priority has always been that the commission follows the latest health advice as they did this week."

Parliamentary authorities will review the measures before MPs return in September. Changes will only be made in line with government guidance.

The House of Lords Commission will also decide on social distancing rules later this week.

A Lords spokesperson said:“The House of Lords Commission will meet on Thursday to consider possible changes to social distancing rules in place in the Lords part of the Parliamentary estate.

"The Commission has received advice on the issue from Public Health England. Any decision taken will be published after the meeting."

Read more

Ress-Mogg faces backlash as government ends virtual voting for MPs