PUBS may be able to reopen as soon as next week, depending on what the Prime Minister announces later on today.

Boris Johnson is expected to set out plans for the hospitality sector to reopen from July 4 and set out whether the two-metre social distancing rule in England can be relaxed.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said over the weekend that England is “clearly on track” to further ease lockdown restrictions after repeated calls to reduce the two-metre rule to one metre.

The Prime Minister discussed the proposed changes with the Covid-19 strategy committee yesterday afternoon, attended by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty.

He will then outline plans to Parliament for pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers to reopen in England from July 4, and a likely loosening of the distancing guidance to boost the economic restart.

Dave Stubbins, chair of Campaign for Real Ale Furness, said: “It must be excellent news if they decide to reopen the pubs. However it will depend on what they say about social distancing.

“We have so many small pubs in Furness so if it stays at two metres it may not be worth opening for some.

“Obviously the industry need to get moving again, but of course safety is a priority due to the high rates that we have had in the area. It has got to be good news for those who can make it work though.

“It is good for the nation as well, as people need to get out and socialise, and the pub is a great place to do that.

“There will be other things that could be brought in such as face coverings must be worn as well, which may help the customers feel more confident about going to a pub.

“They say that 1m has a higher risk than 2m. But I have seen that other countries have introduced this and have not seen an ‘R’ rate increase.

“It is a difficult decision to make, and I hope that we can find a good balance.”

Dr Zeshan Qureshi, lead author of a report on social distancing for Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was scientific uncertainty around relaxing the two-metre rule.

His team has looked at every study published up to June 17 on Covid-19 and social distancing.

“This one to two-metre distancing, it’s not based on data that we are getting from coronavirus,” he said.

“It is based on historic data, decades and decades old that has been applied to coronavirus in good faith.

“It is based on very old, outdated models of droplet transmission, which assume that large droplets are the route in which infections are transmitted.”