I work in an industry that spends a great deal of time trying to avoid digital cables being extended beyond their limitations. The reason is that when a cable is too long, the signal will drop out. As people get used to digital connections between their computers and displays etc, the use of HDMI cables is very challenging and even more challenging are DisplayPort cables. Our view is that 10m-15m for HDMI Is ideally the maximum length before a more robust arrangement is supplied. As for DisplayPort we would stick with 3m-5m. Although we know what works reliably, there are numerous products on the market which may work ok some of the time but the challenge is that if they fail, the frustration to the client is very significant so we tend to be cautious and avoid risks when we install our systems. However inevitably there are others who offer much longer cable lengths and most of the time they will be ok, but if they go wrong, the cost to the client or the company can then be very significant. So when it comes to COVID-19 the issue of how close to people we can be is of course based on a range of criteria and some of the time we can take risks, but no one with any sense wants to take unnecessary risks. Whereas digital cables need to be as short as possible, being located close to other people who may be carrying a virus is the very opposite, although we are expected to stay 1m-2m apart. Anyway on Monday the MP for South Holland and the Deepings, John Hayes who had asked a written question received the answer. The question was fascinating and it seems to make no sense to me under the current understanding but then he may have been persuaded that 2m or even 1m is no longer necessary. So his question was:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of reducing the recommended social distance from two meters to 0.5 meters.
As is often the case, when someone asks a question, the Minister concerned is too busy and so they ask one of their colleagues to answer the question. In this case Matthew Hancock did not respond but instead the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, Helen Whatley answered the question on his behalf. This was her response:
The Government has commissioned a review into the two metre (six feet) social distancing rule and we are working as quickly as possible to carry it out, taking advice from a range of experts, including the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Advisor, behavioural scientists and economists and ensuring it is comprehensive in examining how the two metre rule works in practice, the evidence around transmission of the virus in different environments, incidence rates, and international comparisons. The review is expected to be completed within the coming weeks.
So my thoughts are two fold. First of all what on earth motivated John Hayes to challenge a 1m distance when it is very clear that although the 2m system is more than what WHO demands but it is very clear it has many extra safety issues and yet less than 1m is not something that even the WHO are claiming. However the other thought is if the Government has proposed 1m+ as the current arrangement, having dispensed the 2m requirement, how come the review was not carried out before they made the change? After all given that they told people to go down to 1m+ from the 4th July that inevitably very quickly relaxes people who ignore the 2m limitation well before the date proposed. However if they have to persuade people in locations such as Leicester to remain at 2m that will raise all sorts of frustrations with people who want to get closer. In the meantime when will their 2m review be completed?