Professor Robert Dingwall spoke out as it emerged that ministers have asked the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to look again at social distancing, amid growing evidence coronavirus does not transmit well in the air. Prof Dingwall, from Nottingham Trent University, said a one metre gap would allow offices, beaches and restaurants to open sooner. Speaking in a personal capacity, he said: "Reducing social distancing to a metre could mean restaurants opening with 80 percent capacity instead of 20.
"Beaches and parks could open with a significantly larger number of people while offices could be adapted to allow more people to work on one floor.
"The planning would also inform how many children could go back to school and how they are seated.
"The two metre rule is over the top. People need to understand there is not much basis for it. However, there is a respectable body of work that shows one metre is enough not to increase transmission.
"And you are also unlikely to put yourself at increased risk if you pass someone in a transitory way who is less than a metre away, for example in a supermarket aisle. This could help us plan a way