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Johnson told to review social distancing amid risk to tens of thousands of hospitality jobs

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the M&S clothing department and other retail outlets in Westfield, Stratford to see the COVID-19 measure taken before reopening in London. Photo: John Nguyen/Pool via REUTERS

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the M&S clothing department and other retail outlets in Westfield, Stratford to see the COVID-19 measure taken before reopening in London. Photo: John Nguyen/Pool via REUTERS

via REUTERS

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the M&S clothing department and other retail outlets in Westfield, Stratford to see the COVID-19 measure taken before reopening in London. Photo: John Nguyen/Pool via REUTERS

A Downing Street-led review of the two-metre social distancing rule must be completed by next week or hotels, bars and restaurants will start to sack tens of thousands of staff, industry leaders will warn British ministers tomorrow.

Boris Johnson has ordered a review into Public Health England's guidance after criticism from businesses and Tory MPs that it means companies are not economically viable.

No 10 said its review would be completed "within weeks", but hospitality companies have warned they would need to know the plans by Tuesday next week, when rent for the three months from July is due, in order to head off job losses.

Tens of thousands of "non-essential" shops are to open today, though Mr Johnson admitted yesterday he did not know whether the shoppers would "come in a flood or a trickle - I hope they will come in sensible numbers".

The UK recorded its lowest daily death toll since before lockdown, with 36 recorded deaths yesterday, and Mr Johnson hinted he wanted to reduce the two-metre distance as the virus decreased.

He said: "As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one in 1,000, one in 1,600 maybe even fewer, your chances of being two metres, one metre or even a foot away from someone who has the virus is going down statistically, so you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre."

Meanwhile, Germany's R-rate, the crucial metric used to determine how rapidly the coronavirus is spreading, increased above one yesterday, days before the country is set to launch its tracing app.

It has given rise to concerns Germany, which won praise for its response to the crisis, may have relaxed lockdown restrictions too soon.

Yesterday morning, the daily R-rate across Germany was 1.02. More worrying for authorities is the seven-day R-rate, which provides a more stable and reliable indication of how the virus is spreading by aggregating data over a week-long period. That figure stood at 1.09 yesterday morning, the first time it has risen above one since the metric was introduced in mid-May.

It is not clear exactly what would have caused such an increase but some of the most significant outbreaks have occurred in the central state of Thuringia, which relaxed coronavirus measures in mid-May, earlier than many other areas, and ended contact restrictions entirely on Saturday.

Lockdown measures vary in each of Germany's 16 states. Large gatherings remain banned across the country, but bars, restaurants, sports clubs and public transport services have reopened.

In France, Emmanuel Macron has announced all children can return to schools, nurseries and day-care centres next month, ending social distancing but avoiding close contact where possible.

The French president also gave Paris restaurants and cafés the green light to open fully and serve customers indoors from today.

Paris was the last part of mainland France still classified as a higher-risk "orange zone", but has now joined the rest of the country in being considered a "green zone" where the spread of the coronavirus is under control.

Many schools have already reopened, but had to halve class sizes because of France's one-metre social distancing rule. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk