PUBS across England could reopen during the coronavirus lockdown if social distancing rules were relaxed, the boss of a large trade body has claimed.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said around 75 percent of pubs could reopen if rules were relaxed to one metre.

Ms McClarkin warned that if the two-metre guidance remains, just one-third of pubs would be able to reopen their doors due to logistics.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants have remained shut for the past eight weeks and there are no current plans for the government to allow them to reopen.

But Ms McClarkin said continuation of the two-metre guidance would leave pub landlords facing further financial misery and ruin.

The hospitality sector was given some hope after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night hinted that restaurants, hotels and bars could potentially reopen earlier than planned after he asked scientists to review the two-metre rule.

Miss McClarkin, whose organisation represents about 20,000 UK pubs and the majority of brewers, said the required distance should be reduced to at least one metre, as in several European countries and advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

She said: "We're not asking unless it's safe to do.

"It is an internationally recognised standard of one metre, used in France, Italy and Denmark, which allows some kind of normality.

"Pubs are currently on a very highly tuned Government life-support machine.

"The longer they remain on it, and with all the other medicines they have to pay for, some won't survive.

"Once pubs close they are very, very hard to resuscitate."

Miss McClarkin said polling of BBPA members showed about 40 percent could not survive until September if they remained closed, and the pub sector was burning through roughly £100 million in cash every month during lockdown.

At the Commons Liaison Committee on Wednesday, Mr Johnson told MPs the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) had been told to review the guidance.

He said: "My own hope is that as we make progress in getting the virus down, in reducing the incidence, that we will be able to reduce that distance, which I think will be particularly valuable in transport and clearly the hospitality sector."

Mr Johnson said advice from Sage remains that there is "a very considerable reduction in risk at two metres".

Public Health England's medical director, Professor Yvonne Doyle, has said the UK took a "cautionary" approach to introducing the rule when other countries were using shorter distances.

She told the Science and Technology Select Committee: "We are aware of the international differences and I am sure this will be the subject of continued investigation as to whether two metres is actually necessary or whether that can be reduced further."

Miss McClarkin said bars have spent lockdown assessing how to keep staff and customers safe, looking at deep cleaning regimes and options including limited bar service to reduce transmission.

Just under one million people are employed in the beer brewing and pub industry in the UK, with hundreds of thousand currently furloughed, and jobs could be lost if two-metre social distancing remained as fewer staff would be needed, she added.

Miss McClarkin went on: "Pubs are not going to be the same. It is still going to be an altered experience in your local, but we can all find our way back to the new normal while getting back to the pub.

"Pubs are in many cases the heart of communities and we are ready to play the role that we have played in communities up and down the country."