The Prime Minister told his Cabinet colleagues he would exercise “maximum caution” when taking crucial decisions on what business can reopen. A minister last night admitted the strict rules aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus and protecting the NHS could remain in place until next month. “It is baby steps taken slowly and only when it’s clear they can be taken,” an ally familiar with the plans told the Times.

As Mr Johnson is set to announce a slight rollback of measures this weekend, garden centres and churches could reopen next week.

But places of worship would likely be open for only private prayer as the risk of infection spreading at group ceremonies remains.

The Prime Minister will lay out the Government’s “roadmap” out of the lockdown which he implemented on March 23.

He will say the speed at which the measures can be lifted will depend on how fast the rate of new infections reduces.

At Thursday’s daily press conference reporters were told that the R number – the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading – stands between 0.5 and 0.9 across Britain.

This indicates the virus is under control.

However, there are fears the R number in care homes may be much higher, with each sick person passing the virus on to more than one individual.


7.57am update: ‘We will have to look at future in tentative and cautious way’ – Dowden

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the Prime Minister would on Sunday set out a “road map” for how England would begin to lift the lockdown restrictions.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “On Sunday, what the Prime Minister will do is set out the road map ahead.

“We can start to look to the future but we’ll have to do so in a very tentative and cautious way, so people should not expect big changes from the Prime Minister on Sunday.

“But what they should expect… he’ll set out the road map but he’ll say that at each stage we’ll have to assess: can we take those measures?

“Because all the time we want to ensure that we keep the reinfection rate under control.”

He added: “If there is any indication that things are starting to get out of control, we won’t hesitate to step back.

“But people should be able to look forward to the weeks and months ahead to know where we are going and the order in which we are doing it.”

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