Coronavirus: Government adviser questions science behind two-metre social distancing

People walking in Kensington Gardens, London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)

The two-metre social distancing rule for coronavirus was "conjured up out of nowhere", a government adviser has claimed.

Authorities have told people to stay at least two metres apart when out in public but this distance has been questioned by Robert Dingwall from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag).

Nervtag is one of the organisations that feed information into the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which is a crucial part of the government's COVID-19 response.

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Lockdown Britain enjoys warm weekend
SOUTHEND ON SEA, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: People enjoying the sunshine hold up a sign that reads "Boris, Get Well, we need you, we like you, I love you" while posing with a skeleton which is wearing protective gloves and mask on their balcony flying a Union Jack flag during the Coronavirus lockdown on April 26, 2020 in Southend on Sea, England. Boris Johnson, is due to return to work in Westminster tomorrow after being out of action for more than three weeks because of contracting the coronavirus. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
Runners on the Mall in central London, at the finish of the London Marathon course, which was postponed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
A lady in a mask walks on the beach in Margate, Kent, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: The London Eye is seen from the Embankment as runners go past on April 26, 2020 in London, England. The 40th London Marathon was due to take place today, with thousands of runners due to take part. It has postponed until October 04 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Runners run down The Mall , where the finish of the London Marathon was due to take place, on April 26, 2020 in London, England. The 40th London Marathon was due to take place today, with thousands of runners due to take part. It has postponed until October 04 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Joggers run across Tower Bridge on April 26, 2020 in London, England. The 40th London Marathon was due to take place today, with thousands of runners due to take part, but was postponed until October 04 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Joggers run through Canary Wharf on April 26, 2020 in London, England. The 40th London Marathon was due to take place today, with thousands of runners due to take part. It has postponed until October 04 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
People cycle along the seafront at Goring-by-Sea on the south coast of England, on April 26, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Britain's health ministry on Saturday said 813 more people had died after testing positive for COVID-19 in hospital, taking the death toll to 20,319. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
A couple view the empty beach in Broadstairs, Kent, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Following the closure of several Pizza Hut restaurants due to Covid-19, the Croydon Solidarity Network protest outside in Lewisham over the plight of around forty Pizza Hut workers in South London who had not been paid for five weeks without being furloughed on April 25, 2020 in London, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: People are encouraged to keep 2 metres apart on April 25, 2020 in Brighton, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: Police officers try to persuade a sunbather to leave the beach on April 25, 2020 in Brighton, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: A man sunbathes in the boot of his car as people continue to stay at home in central Manchester on April 25, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: Police officers try to persuade a sunbather to leave the beach on April 25, 2020 in Brighton, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Traders wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including gloves and a visor as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, serve customers at their fruit and vegetable stall at Leicester Market in Leicester, central England, on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Britain's health ministry on Saturday said 813 more people had died after testing positive for COVID-19 in hospital, taking the death toll to 20,319. The figure is an increase on the 684 reported the previous day and comes after the government claimed the virus had hit its peak. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman in sunglasses and rollerblades keeps socially distanced and enjoys the sunshine in Peel Park, Salford, Greater Manchester on Saturday 25th April 2020. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Police officers tell members of the public that they are not allowed to sit and enjoy the sunshine on the grass, but are allowed to walk to take exercise, in London Fields park in east London on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Boris Johnson's government on Saturday was embroiled in a political row after it emerged his chief advisor attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Downing Street was forced to deny that Dominic Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Police officers patrol the beach in Brighton as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: A police officer encourages people to leave the beach on April 25, 2020 in Brighton, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Police officers tell members of the public that they are not allowed to sit and enjoy the sunshine on the grass, but are allowed to walk to take exercise, in London Fields park in east London on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Boris Johnson's government on Saturday was embroiled in a political row after it emerged his chief advisor attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Downing Street was forced to deny that Dominic Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: Police officers encourage people to leave the beach on April 25, 2020 in Brighton, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
People practicing social distancing at Tynemouth beach as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Three men with identical bleach blonde hair sunbathe in the sunshine in Peel Park, Salford, Greater Manchester on Saturday 25th April 2020. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man drinks lager from a can under his protective face mask as he enjoys the sunshine in Peel Park, Salford, Greater Manchester on Saturday 25th April 2020. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A socially distanced topless man falls asleep in the hot sun in Sackville Gardens in Manchester city centre on Saturday 25th April 2020. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Girls dressed for the beach cram onto a tiny balcony to catch some rays in Manchester city centre on Saturday 25th April 2020. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A police car patrols the promenade in Brighton as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man does a press-up as he exercises near a woman laying on the grass near her bike in Victoria Park, east London on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Boris Johnson's government on Saturday was embroiled in a political row after it emerged his chief advisor attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Downing Street was forced to deny that Dominic Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman goes for a walk in a full face visor in Manchester city centre on Saturday 25th April 2020. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) of a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, runs on the grass in Victoria Park, east London on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Boris Johnson's government on Saturday was embroiled in a political row after it emerged his chief advisor attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Downing Street was forced to deny that Dominic Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
People walk in the sunshine in Victoria Park, east London on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Boris Johnson's government on Saturday was embroiled in a political row after it emerged his chief advisor attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Downing Street was forced to deny that Dominic Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: A Beach warden speaks to a family group after they gather on the beach with buckets and spades on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: A man wears a face mask as he walks across Deansgate in central Manchester on April 25, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: Members of the public are seen at Bournemouth Beach on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: People enjoy the warm weather in Castlefield in central Manchester on April 25, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: A man carries a Jack Russell dog on his shoulder as he walks along Deansgate in central Manchester on April 25, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
People walk along the cliff top, at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, southern England, on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Boris Johnson's government on Saturday was embroiled in a political row after it emerged his chief advisor attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Downing Street was forced to deny that Dominic Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 25: General views of Bournemouth Beach signage encouraging people to stay home as members of the public walk on the sand on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Tape covers outdoor gym equipment to prevent people using it, in Abbey Park in Leicester, central England, on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Boris Johnson's government on Saturday was embroiled in a political row after it emerged his chief advisor attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Downing Street was forced to deny that Dominic Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Members of the public are seen on the beach on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Members of the public are seen on the beach on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Members of the public are seen on the beach on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Members of the public are seen on the beach on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Members of the public are seen on the beach on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Members of the public are seen on the beach on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Members of the public are seen on the beach on April 25, 2020 in Bournemouth, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Social distancing is practised on a park bench as a man (R) reads a book as a couple exchange a kiss, in London Fields park in east London on April 25, 2020, during the national lockdown due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Boris Johnson's government on Saturday was embroiled in a political row after it emerged his chief advisor attended meetings of the main scientific group advising ministers on the coronavirus pandemic in Britain. Downing Street was forced to deny that Dominic Cummings and another advisor, Ben Warner, were members of the politically independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
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Nottingham Trent University sociology professor Dingwall told Radio 4's Today: "We cannot sustain [social distancing measures] without causing serious damage to society, to the economy and to the physical and mental health of the population.

'I think it will be much harder to get compliance with some of the measures that really do not have an evidence base.

"I mean the two-metre rule was conjured up out of nowhere."

Dingwall said there was a certain amount of scientific evidence for a one-metre distance but there's never been a scientific basis for two metres.

He called it a "kind of a rule of thumb" and said there wasn't rigorous scientific literature that it is founded on.

Ministers have not set out an exit strategy to the current lockdown, despite coming under pressure to do so.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told Radio 4's Today programme that easing the UK's lockdown depended on the speed at which the number of new cases of Covid-19 falls and that is as yet "unknown".

Meanwhile, people may be permitted to see ten friends or family members as lockdown restrictions for coronavirus are eased, according to a report from Mail Online.

The government is looking at plans for the next stage of the pandemic which involve small groups being allowed to meet up.

People would be allowed to select an unchangeable list of friends and family they wanted to meet for meals and social activities.

A Whitehall source said: "If we can find a way to allow a bit more flexibility without risking transmission of the disease running higher then we will do it."

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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