The BBC One host accused David Lammy and other Labour Party politicians of acting like “commentators” as the Shadow Justice Secretary refused to clarify whether his party would approve a move from the Government to half the two-metre coronavirus social distancing rule. Andrew Marr blasted: “It’s a slightly easy thing to say ‘we’ll wait for the review, we’ll see what happens’.
“Labour seems to be doing this more and more at the moment.
“Waiting to see, acting like commentators!”
The Labour frontbencher hit back: “Andrew, it’s not commentators.
“We’re saying risk assessments at work, we’re saying give local authorities the power to do something.
“We’re saying where is the tracing app?
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“We’re saying 50,000 people tracing we need. Those are tangible things that we could be getting on with.
“That’s not speculation. That’s actually doing.”
The fiery clash comes as Boris Johnson has ordered a comprehensive review of the two-metre social-distancing rule amid calls it should be scrapped.
Easing the restriction is seen as vital if businesses such as restaurants and pubs are to be able to re-open sustainably.
The Mail on Sunday reported the review would effectively take control of social-distancing guidelines out of the hands of the Government’s scientific advisers, who have been deeply reluctant to countenance relaxation.
The move comes as thousands of non-essential shops in England are set to re-open on Monday for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.
With many people thought to be nervous about going out again after nearly three months in lockdown, Business Secretary Alok Sharma sought to reassure the public that measures had been put in place to ensure their safety.
Writing in the Sunday Express, he said: “We need to get Britain’s economy firing again, while at the same time making sure we keep people safe and avoid a second peak of the disease.”
And Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the Sun on Sunday: “I am very conscious that there will be anxiety. For some time, many people have not been inside a shop and, in a way, we all have to relearn the behaviours we took for granted.
“We’ve been living with anxiety now for 12 weeks but the good news is that we’ve made enormous progress.
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“Bit by bit, that confidence will come back and the anxiety will reduce. But it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the two-metre social distancing rule should only be relaxed if the science backs such a move.
He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show: “It should be reduced if the evidence indicated that it should be.
“This is where we need to be so careful because the public health position and the health of the economy go together. There’s no point seeing them in conflict.”
Mr Thomas-Symonds added: “If it did move to one metre without there being scientific advice backing that you would end up with a second peak, which would cause even greater economic damage.
“My message to the Government is to be vigilant, be cautious, approach this in a structured way and publish the evidence so we can all see it, and we can get that restoration of confidence in the public health advice that the Dominic Cummings affair did so much damage to.”