Time is running out to cut the two-metre rule and save the high street

Just like the bizarre and damaging quarantine, and the doomed contact-tracing app, a U-turn is inevitable.

It will probably come in time for the reopening of pubs and restaurants, perhaps early next month, but in the meantime retailers will attempt a consumer recovery with both hands tied behind their backs.

For some the next few weeks of grim trading will contribute to their eventual collapse in the “very bad autumn” that John Allan, the president of the CBI, is right to warn about. By then, unemployment will be rocketing and a real recession – as opposed to April’s self-imposed collapse – will be in full swing.

Nobody will be asking then whether abandoning the two-metre rule was the right thing to do. The Government will instead have to answer questions about why it didn’t adopt international standards sooner.

Damage is done despite apology

“Our industry takes a lot of abuse,” Stephen Jones, the chief executive of UK Finance, complained in his speech at the banking lobby group’s annual dinner in September. It would appear he can dish it out too, though.

We don’t yet know what he said about Amanda Staveley back in 2008 when he worked at Barclays as head of investor relations. However, given the High Court has heard how he described her firm as a “bunch of scumbags” and “f—–s”, it seems safe to assume he wasn’t complimenting her business acumen.

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