Boris tries to show shopping is safe by visiting empty shopping centre
The prime minister insisted that the public should be able to ‘shop with confidence’ as he had a solo tour of an east London mall, ahead of thousands of stores reopening tomorrow.
Speaking in the middle of an empty Westfield shopping centre, Boris Johnson offered the public a first look at how shopping will change for the public in England.
Walking around the deserted shopping centre, the PM demonstrated how social distancing and hygiene measures will be implemented across non-essential stores from Monday. The PM obediently utilised hand sanitiser stations and followed stickers on the floor instructing him to adhere to distancing rules despite no one being around.
The PM said on Sunday he was ‘optimistic’ about shops opening their doors to customers for the first time since March and hoped to see a ‘gradual’ build-up of people returning to the high street and large department stores.
Mr Johnson said: ‘I am very optimistic about the opening up that is going to happen tomorrow.
‘I think people should shop and shop with confidence, but they should of course observe the rules on social distancing and do it as safely as possible.’
He added that decreasing numbers of coronavirus cases in the country have given the government ‘more margin for manoeuvre’ in potentially easing the two-metre social distancing rule.
The PM claimed that ‘probably’ fewer than one-in-a-thousand people were now infected with coronavirus.
He said: ‘As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one-in-a-thousand, one-in-sixteen hundred, maybe fewer, your chances of being, two metres one metre or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus are obviously going down statistically.
‘So you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre, and we’ll be looking at that and keeping it under constant review’.
Mr Johnson’s comments come after Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the PM has ordered an ‘urgent’ and ‘comprehensive review’ of the two-metre rule in England, as the government continues to lift lockdown restrictions.
Ministers, who are set to make the final decision, are under intense pressure from Conservative MPs to ease the rule, but the government’s scientific advisers have been deeply reluctant to approve the relaxation of social distancing regulations.
The review comes amid fears of a wave of job losses as the government starts to wind down the furlough scheme with employers paying a portion of staff’s wages from August.
Ministers, who are set to make the final decision, are under intense pressure from Conservative MPs to ease the rule.
But the government’s scientific advisers have been deeply reluctant to approve the relaxation of any distancing measures.
Mr Sunak said on Sunday: ‘The Prime Minister has put in place a comprehensive review of the two-metre rule. That review will involve the scientists, the economists and others so that we can look at it in the round.
‘You are right to highlight the impact it has on business – it is the difference between maybe three-quarters and a third of pubs opening, for example, so it is important the we look at it.
‘It is important that we look at it comprehensively, in the round, and that is what we will do urgently.’