Grant Shapps admits halving two metre rule ‘could still be safe’, as lockdown hits employment figures

Grant Shapps has insisted that reducing the two metre rule by half “could still be safe” and admits the rule is harming hospitality, as new employment figures reveal the economic impact of coronavirus.

The Transport Secretary signalled that the Government could reduce social distancing guidance because “there are fewer people around with the disease”, reducing the risk of transmission.

Asked about data from the hospitality industry which indicated capacity could be doubled with a reduction in the rule, Mr Shapps admitted: “I don’t disagree with those figures.”

He said: “No-one would love it to come down to one metre more than me. 

“What we’ve got to do is make sure we can match – if we bring that down to a metre – with not increasing the virus.”

The Government is under newfound pressure to act after the number of people on British company payrolls fell by more than 600,000 in April.

Boris Johnson will make a statement to the House of Commons about Global Britain at 1.15pm this afternoon, in which he is expected to give an upbeat assessment of the UK’s future as an independent trading nation outside the EU.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove will then update MPs on the current progress in the post-Brexit trade talks with Brussels.

Follow the latest updates below.