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 a 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 British 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.

Bit by bit, that confidence will come back and the anxiety will reduce. But it’s not going to happen overnight.”

There have been warnings that any maintaining of the two-metre rule, along with a closing of the furlough scheme, could be a “horrendous” situation for the hospitality sector.

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