Changing Social Distancing To 1m – The Pax Maths

There are calls for the government to change the social distancing distance from 2m to 1m, for the hospitality industry the maths backs this up.

The social distancing figure in the UK is 2m, as it is in the US, Italy and Spain. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and many countries consider 1m to be an adequate distance.

Simply put no-one really knows what the right figure is, just that social distancing definitely helps. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the list of countries with 2m distancing and realise it hasn’t helped them out much, with four of the five countries to have suffered the most deaths practicing 2m distancing (only France is missing who have 1m distancing).

So it seems fair for people to be questioning the logic behind the 2m rule, especially with one of the government’s own scientific advisors, Professor Robert Dingwell, claiming on Radio 4 the other day that the 2m rule was based on ‘very fragile’ evidence. However what sort of difference would it make for the hospitality industry?

Thanks for asking. Fucking loads as it happens. Someone has done the maths to help show it.

Over in Ireland the Licensed Vinters Association (LVA) and Vinters Federation of Ireland (VFI) commissioned Knapton Consulting Engineers to carry out the study and recently published the results.

It makes for pretty interesting reading and the full report can be found here but there are some key take away points. It is worth noting that the figures were worked out for both a square room with no obstructions as well as a more ‘realistic’ venue layout, of course each venue will be different but they had to base it on something (the picture of the venue they based it on can be found in the report), and it seems a pretty standard layout.

10m by 10m Square Room with no obstructions – Standing
No restrictions other than Fire Regulations – 200 pax
With 1m social distancing rules – 100 pax (50% reduction)
With 2m social distancing rules – 25 pax (87.5% reduction)

10m by 10m Square Room with no obstructions – Seated
No restrictions other than Fire Regulations & furniture – 100 pax
With 1m social distancing rules – 65 pax (35% reduction)
With 2m social distancing rules – 34 pax (66% reduction)

‘Typical’ Bar/Restaurant Layout mixture of Standing & Seated
No restrictions on physical distancing – Standing 125 pax, Seated 77 pax, Total 202 pax
With 1m social distancing – Standing 36 pax, Seated 45 pax, Total 81 pax (60% reduction)
With 2m social distancing – Standing 9 pax, Seated 18 pax, Total 27 pax (87% reduction)

We appreciate that it doesn’t look good with either of the social distancing measures put in, and of course all venues will be different, but for many the difference between 2m and 1m will be the difference between being able to open or not.

There are many other issues to resolve, toilets not being the least of them, but it seems clear from this research that one area that should be near the top of the ‘things to fight for’ list is reducing the social distancing from 2m to 1m.

Can someone come up with a hashtag, that seems to be the way to get things done these days.