The Telegraph reports that officials are working on proposals, which could see most shops closed until April.
Yesterday (27 January), Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that schools will not open until March at the earliest.
He also promised to publish a 'roadmap' for reopening on February 22.
A senior Government source said the current thinking would mean that, once schools return, it could be at least another month after that before non-essential shops would be allowed to open.
The 'staggered approach' would mean that if schools open in March, shops would be unlikely to get the green light until April, while pubs and restaurants could remain closed until May.
A Whitehall source said: “If schools do open in March, and the priority is certainly to open schools first, then it will mean other things have to remain closed for some time.
“We have to avoid the situation last time where the return of schools meant far greater household mixing across the board. So that means we’d be likely to wait at least another month for non-essential retail, and a month beyond that at least for pubs and restaurants.”
Johnson told the Commons a roadmap would set out stages to 'gradually to reopen our economy and our society'.
The Prime Minister said the Government would take a decision in the middle of next month, when there is a clearer idea of the impact of the vaccine on the pandemic.
He said: “By then we will know much more about the effect of vaccines in preventing hospitalisations and deaths, using data from the UK but also other nations such as Israel. We will know how successful the current restrictions have been in driving down infections.
“We will also know how many people are still in hospital with Covid, which we simply can’t predict with certainty today. So we will then be in a better position to chart a course out of lockdown without risking a further surge that would overwhelm the NHS.”
Earlier this month it was reported that a Government source had touted the early May bank holiday as a 'realistic' reopening date for the sector.