SHOPS in England will be allowed to reopen from Monday, the UK Government confirmed, just hours after scrapping plans to get more primary school children back into the classroom before September.

Alok Sharma, the Business Secretary, explained that non-essential retail would be able to open their doors from Monday but only if they had completed a Covid-19 risk assessment and could implement social distancing measures.

"This is the latest step in the careful restarting of our economy and will enable high streets up and down the country to spring back to life,” said Mr Sharma at the daily Downing St press briefing.

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However, other businesses, including pubs, restaurants and hairdressers, will remain shut until July 4 at the earliest, he explained. However, pressure is building to enable the hospitality sector to open up to outdoor customers from June 22.

Many businesses south of the Border have warned that the rule requiring people to stay two metres apart would jeopardise their ability to reopen.

Pressure is building within Cabinet for the rule to be relaxed to one metre. But at the press briefing Mr Sharma repeatedly refused to say if this was a possibility, stressing how the issue was being kept under review and "when it is safe to do so, we will see whether you can move to a shorter distance".

He added: "We are taking a cautious view on this. I completely understand why for economic reasons businesses will want to have a look at this two-metre rule."

The shops announcement came after his Cabinet colleague Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, abandoned plans for all primary pupils in England to attend classes before the summer break.

Some schools insisted they simply did not have enough space on site to admit all pupils in the eligible year groups while adhering to Government guidance to limit class sizes to 15 and encourage fewer interactions.

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Mr Williamson said the Government would like to see those schools which "have the capacity" to bring back more pupils where possible before the summer break.

Meanwhile, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that less than a fifth of deaths registered in the week ending May 29 in England and Wales involved coronavirus, the lowest proportion since the week lockdown was imposed;

However, there have been more than 63,500 excess deaths in the UK since the outbreak began and analysis by the PA news agency showed the number of fatalities involving Covid-19 in the UK was now just under 52,000.