CABINET OFFICE/HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE – COVID-19 AND ENGINEERS  – 16 June 2020
Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of expert engineers in containing the covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong; if he will extend an invitation to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers to join the expert team conducting the Government’s review of the two-metre social distancing rule; and what further steps he plans to take to ensure that evidence from highly skilled engineering sources is obtained and evaluated by the review team. 
[Due for Answer on 22 June. Answered on 6 July.]
QUESTION TRANSFERRED FROM CABINET OFFICE TO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE
HOLDING ANSWER [HELEN WHATELY]: The Department of Health and Social Care has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.
The Minister of State for Social Care (Helen Whately): The Government commissioned a review into the two metre social distancing rule and took advice from a range of experts, including the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Advisor, behavioural scientists and economists.
Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, the Prime Minister announced that we can change the two-metre social distancing rule from 4 July to a “one-metre-plus” approach. This means members of the public can be one metre away from each other as long as other measures are put in place to limit the transmission of the virus. It remains better for managing the risk of transmission of the virus to stay two metres away from others outside your household wherever possible. Where it is possible to keep two metres apart people should continue to do so.
The Department is regularly in discussions with other countries on a wide range of issues of issues relating to COVID-19. The Department will continue to learn from and work with other countries throughout the crisis and beyond.