Cafes may be able to reopen in the summer months if they can provide outdoor facilities, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Mr Hancock also said it would have been good if the UK had gone into the Covid-19 pandemic with the diagnostic capabilities of Germany, and added that experts are looking at how people who are shielding can be given more freedom before a vaccine is found.

Mr Hancock answered questions from viewers on Sky News, including one from a man who asked how he could safely reopen his cafe once the lockdown is lifted.

It comes as Boris Johnson is expected to publish a road map at the weekend on how restrictions may be eased, including whether it might be possible to exercise outside more than once a day or have picnics with immediate family.

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Mr Hancock said: "The Business Secretary (Alok Sharma) is working on the rules for safe working so, when we get the rate of new infections down, we can work on how people can get back to work as safely as possible. And we are going to say more about that very shortly.

"There is strong evidence that outdoors the spread is much, much lower, so there may be workarounds that some businesses, for instance cafes, especially over the summer, may be able to put into place."

Mr Hancock said it would have been good if the UK had had the diagnostic testing capability enjoyed by Germany, but insisted the UK had caught up.

He said: "The Germans started with this enormous diagnostics industry. But if you look at other countries around the world we are miles ahead on testing and we are now one of the world leaders.

"It is true that Germany has a very high capacity - about the same as ours. So we have basically caught up with Germany that started with this massive capability. We are miles ahead of South Korea now. Absolutely."

Mr Hancock said there is no guarantee a vaccine for coronavirus will be found.

"If a vaccine can't be found then we have to learn to find a way to live with this virus, so that means getting the numbers down and holding them down through, for instance, mass-scale testing and then tracing the virus through a combination of technology and human contact tracers," he said.

He said people who are shielding for their own protection - around two million, according to NHS Digital - could be given more freedom if new case numbers are driven down.

"We may well be able to release some of those measures before a vaccine is available if we can get the number of new cases right down," he said.

"If we succeed in doing that we will be able to take clinical advice on whether it is safe for those who are shielded to, for instance, hug their grandchildren. That is right at the front of my mind."

Mr Hancock said it was too soon to say when schools might reopen as experts are still monitoring progress of the disease and need people to stick to social distancing measures.

"I understand the frustration of people wanting to know the answer - will it be June, will it be September, for what age groups?" he said. "We just don't yet have the data but I think we are coming to a position relatively soon."

He said the Government is unlikely to reduce the distance people should remain from each other, with the risk of infection increasing "exponentially" if the two-metre distance is shortened.

Mr Hancock also said people should be "very cautious" about comparing death tolls from different countries after figures suggested the UK had the highest number of recorded Covid-19 related fatalities in Europe.

"Firstly, we are one of the biggest countries in Europe and that matters, so there are smaller countries which naturally will have a lower death rate because they have got fewer people," he said.

Spain and Italy "don't include deaths outside hospital in their figures" so "you have got to be very careful about comparing like with like".

Mr Hancock added that he was left speechless by Professor Neil Ferguson's breach of lockdown rules and subsequent resignation from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

Halfords shares soared on Wednesday after bosses said April had been better than they expected.

Shares in the bike and car parts seller had risen by some 11% at around 10am.However, Halfords has not had an easy ride amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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While many of its stores have managed to stay open, sales in the four weeks to the start of May were 23% below the same period last year, on a like-for-like basis.

Chief executive Graham Stapleton said: "Whilst trading since our last update at the end of March has been better than anticipated, driven by a strong performance in cycling, considerable uncertainty remains and as such we continue to take all necessary measures to preserve cash and protect our financial position."

Halfords said 325 of its retail stores are still open, serving customers at the front to ensure that staff can work in a safe environment.

It also still has 346 garages and 77 mobile vans in operation.

In the last few weeks of the 2020 financial year, in the run-up to the Covid-19 lockdown, Halfords said sales had been better than expected.

It predicted that the company would hit the upper end of its previous guidance on adjusted pre-tax profit of between £50 million and £55 million.

The business said its liquidity has actually improved, despite the coronavirus crisis, as bosses worked to conserve cash.

Mr Stapleton said: "There may be less journeys now but those that are undertaken are even more important. As the UK's largest provider of motoring and cycling products and services, we take our responsibility to keep the country moving seriously."

He added: "Cycling has provided commuters with an important alternative to public transport and consequently we have seen significant growth within our Cycle2Work programme, cementing our position as the market-leading business in this segment."

Britain's construction sector saw a drop in activity of "historic proportions" last month as the coronavirus pandemic forced widespread closures of sites and building suppliers, according to a report.

The closely-watched IHS Markit/CIPS UK construction purchasing managers' index showed a reading of just 8.2 in April - down from 39.3 in March and the lowest since records began in 1997.

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The previous low was 27.8, which was recorded at the height of the financial crisis.

A score above 50 means the sector is growing but anything below 50 means it is shrinking.

The PMI reading showed an even more severe decline than those for the hard-hit services and manufacturing sectors and was described by one economist as a "total collapse".

It came as most builders shut their sites despite being allowed to continue construction work amid the Covid-19 lockdown, with many citing social distancing fears and a lack of materials as suppliers temporarily closed.

Samuel Tombs, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said PMIs for the three biggest sectors of the economy so far have suggested a 13% plunge in UK gross domestic product (GDP) over the second quarter, but warned that the reading "almost certainly understates the damage".

Mr Tombs said: "In one line - a total collapse."