Speaking at yesterday's (9 June) Coronavirus press briefing, Alok Sharma quashed speculation that some pubs, bars and restaurants in England may be able to reopen their outside spaces as early as 22 June, as had been mooted earlier this week.
He said the Government was following its roadmap, which sets out the 'ambition' to reopen some hospitality business by July 4 'at the earliest'.
Sharma added that the Government will provide 'further safer working guidance' for businesses in the sector as soon as it can.
The decision will almost certainly frustrate operators from across the sector, who are desperate to reopen as soon as possible.
During the press conference, the Business Secretary was also pressed on whether the recommended two metre safe distance would be reduced; a policy many operators say is essential if they are to be able to reopen.
There were rumours earlier this week that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had asked the Business Secretary to make the case for cutting the UK’s social distancing rule from two metres to just one, with Sharma saying last night that the review is 'ongoing'.
Speaking to ITV News Correspondent Joel Hills, Sharma said: “When it is safe to do so, we will see whether you can move to a shorter distance but ultimately we keep all of these things under review.
“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."