Debate is growing in the U.K. over how far apart people should stand in order to cope with the risk from coronavirus infection; it’s an argument that could affect how the movie exhibition and production sectors operate as the lockdown is eased.
So far the U.K. has adopted the advice that people should stay 2 meters (6.5 ft.) apart, but now some lawmakers are arguing that 1 meter (3.3 ft.) is sufficient. The World Health Organization, France, China and other countries advocate 1 meter, while several countries, including Germany and Australia, have set it at 1.5 meter (4.9 ft.).
In the British Parliament, lawmakers have begun to question the medical advice they have received. “In international comparisons, we are an outlier at an extreme end of the distancing that is recommended,” Greg Clark, the chair of Parliament’s science and technology committee, said.
Yvonne Doyle, medical director of Public Health England, told the committee that 2 meters had been adopted as a “precautionary approach,” but that now the end of the lockdown was approaching this was being reconsidered, and that it could prove the difference between a business re-opening or not.
Catherine Noakes, professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds, told the committee that it was far safer to be outside. This would suggest that location shooting is safer for cast and crew than being in a studio.
If people are back to back or side by side, they can be closer than 2 meters, she said. “We believe at 1 meter to the side or back you really breathe the air in the room rather than the plume coming out of someone’s mouth,” she told the committee. This would mean people can sit closer in a theater, and so increase capacity.