British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the falling numbers of coronavirus cases has given his government "more margin for manoeuvre" in easing the two-metre social-distancing rule.
Mr Johnson, who has ordered a "comprehensive" review of the regulation in England, said "probably" fewer than one in 1,000 people now had the virus, meaning the chances of coming in contact with someone who was infected were increasingly remote.
Earlier Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said the review would look at the issue "in the round", drawing on advice from economists as well as the Government's scientific and medical advisers.
He said it would be ministers, not the scientists, who would take the decisions on any relaxation of the two-metre requirement.
The move comes as non-essential shops in England prepare to open their doors to customers on Monday for the first time since the lockdown was imposed in March.
Speaking during a visit to the Westfield shopping centre in east London to highlight the re-openings, Mr Johnson said people should be able to "shop with confidence" as they returned to the high street.
With official figures showing the economy shrank by a fifth in April, ministers are desperate to get economic activity going again amid warnings of further large scale job losses to come.
Ministers are under intense pressure from Conservative MPs who see the easing of the two-metre rule as crucial to the next phase of the reopening, including pubs and restaurants, slated for early July.
Mr Johnson said they were constantly looking at the evidence to see when it would be safe to do so.
"As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one in a thousand, one in 1600, maybe fewer, your chances of being, two metres, one metre or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus are obviously going down statistically, so you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre and we'll be looking at that," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has said people should be able to "shop with confidence" when non-essential stores reopen in England tomorrow.
Speaking during a visit to the Westfield shopping centre in east London, he said he hoped to see a "gradual" build-up in the numbers of people returning to the high street.
"I am very optimistic about the opening up that is going to happen tomorrow," he said.
"I think people should shop and shop with confidence, but they should of course observe the rules on social distancing and do it as safely as possible."
Mr Johnson said that "probably" fewer than one-in-a-thousand people were now infected with coronavirus, allowing "more margin for manoeuvre" in easing the two-metre rule.
"As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one-in-a-thousand, one-in-sixteen hundred, maybe fewer, your chances of being, two metres one metre or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus are obviously going down statistically, so you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre, and we'll be looking at that and keeping it under constant review," he said.