Rishi Sunak backs calls for easing social distancing to help unleash the economy


RISHI SUNAK has supported easing the two-meter social distancing guidelines to help boost the UK’s economy.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been vocal in his support for helping the UK economy recover as soon as possible. He was responsible for introducing the furlough scheme, which has helped save thousands of jobs but also fears the effects of the UK falling into a recession.

According to the Times, Chancellor Sunak has highlighted warnings from the hospitality industry on Wednesday that the two-meter rule is unworkable for many businesses.

Industry leaders claimed that only a quarter of businesses could reopen with two meters distance between customers.

If the rule was reduced to one-meter distance between customers, the leaders claimed that three quarters could re-open.

Sunak presented this concern to the backbench 1922 Committee of Tory MP’s, and highlighted that 24 countries had introduced flexibility to the rules for businesses.

Sunak also suggested that the rule change would have an insignificant impact on schools.

The chancellor urged Tory MPs in the committee meeting to lead the way by reopening shops in their constituencies, which would help to give people confidence in shopping as the pandemic continues to ease.

Sunak also said that Britain was facing a “very different scenario” to previous recessions, as he believed people would not be short of cash as the lockdown was lifted.

Mr Sunak said that credit card debt was lower than at any time during living memory.

He said: “People have not been economically active.”



He reportedly added that the government would need to be “creative” in responding to the recession.

One MP claimed that when asked if there would be tax cuts, Sunak reportedly smiled and declined to comment.

It comes as the chancellor has begun preparing an economic stimulus package for July, which aims to create millions of jobs.

The stimulus is being introduced as the furlough scheme approaches its end.

His appearance to the committee comes after the Chancellor has insisted that shoppers will be “safe” as non-essential retail begins to re-open.

Mr Sunak, appearing in front of a John Lewis store, said “extraordinary steps” had been taken to ensure people can “shop in confidence, knowing that it’s going to be safe”.

Among the measures in place are a one-way system, a limit on the number of people who can be in the store at any one time, signage, a new process for returns and social distancing.

Mr Sunak said: “All of that creates a new shopping environment that won’t be the same as what we’re all used to.

“And it’s an environment that means you can shop in confidence.”

Rishi Sunak also apparently addressed Conservative concerns about China, saying Britain needs to protect its interests.

He said: “We need to be eyes-wide-open on China.”

He added that the government needed a more “formal regime” to protect Britain’s intellectual property and ensure that the government was notified of foreign takeovers.

News of protection from foreign takeovers was signalled earlier by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who according to the Mail Online, is considering legislation that means UK firms have to report it when a foreign company attempts to take over more than 25 percent or purchase “intellectual property”.


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