The two-metre social distancing guidance is “not an absolute rule” and “can only remain in place as long as there is consent”, a cabinet minister has said.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, said the measure was “guidance rather than an absolute rule that will be enforced by a policeman”.
Speaking on his fortnightly Moggcast on the Conservative Home website, he added: “My view of all the restrictions is that they have happened by consent rather than compulsion.”
A total of 12,335 more people than usual have died at home during the coronavirus pandemic, raising fears about the knock-on effects of telling people not to go to hospital.
Carl Heneghan, director of the centre for evidence-based medicine at Oxford University, said that the impact of the lockdown was “going to outweigh the damaging effect of coronavirus”.