JONATHAN Lamb, chief executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, welcomed the government’s decision to reduce the two-metre social distancing rule, but with caution and consideration to public health and safety.

He said: “The two-metre social distancing reduction is an absolutely vital measure for those in the hospitality industry, including pubs, cafes and restaurants, and has much wider implications for the economy at large.

“The reduction could represent a huge step towards normality for those businesses where staff cannot work from home or who are unable to fully or partially reopen because of the two-metre restriction.

“Of even greater significance is the effect it will have on the ability of schools to fully reopen in September, allowing millions of parents to return to work or resume working at full capacity.

“This is crucial because, if the workforce is not available just as the economy begins to restart, business will be negatively impacted.

“However, it is important that the government continues to be driven by data and public safety and that the two-metre rule can be relaxed without risking a potential second wave of Covid-19.

“Ultimately, we have to ensure that if workplaces are planning to reopen, that the health and safety of employees, customers and suppliers is the highest priority.”