Some non-essential shops will reopen on June 15 but no pubs or restaurants until July 4 at earliest

Some non-essential retail shops in England will be allowed to reopen on June 15 so long as they have made their business "covid-secure", the business secretary has announced.

Shops must have put measures in place to allow social distancing on premises before they can reopen and any business which opens without following guidelines can be issued enforcement notices.

Alok Sharma told the government's daily coronavirus press conference this is the "latest step in the careful restarting of our economy", which he claims will "enable high streets up and down the country to spring back to life".

He said the government is following its roadmap which sets out the "ambition" to reopen other business - such as "restaurants, pubs, and bars, as well as hairdressers, barbers, nail bars and related services" - by July 4 at the earliest.

Government will provide "further safer working guidance" for these businesses "as soon as we can", Mr Sharma added.

Any business that opens must complete a "Covid-19 specific risk assessment and take the necessary steps to manage those risks, as is the legal obligation", he said.

He declined to say whether the recommended two metre safe distance would be reduced to one metre - a policy pubs and restaurants say would allow them to reopen more easily.

On May 27 Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised the two metre rule would be reviewed "in good time" ahead of the reopening of more shops.

Mr Sharma told ITV News Correspondent Joel Hills the review is "ongoing".

“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," he added.

Labour said "many challenges" remain for high streets, with employers employers needing to "keep their staff protected", and ensure the "public have confidence in the measures".

Lucy Powell, Labour shadow business minister said: "Ministers must decide on clear guidelines for hospitality businesses reopening as soon as possible so bars, pubs, restaurants and cafes can have certainty.”

It follows an announcement from Gavin Williamson that schools will not fully reopen for a month before the end of term, as had been planned.

Several schools had already said they would not reopen following speculation that the coronavirus reproduction rate (R value) had tipped over one in the North West.

The R value is crucial for scientists recommending relaxation of lockdown - if the value is below one, experts can be sure the virus is in decline.

Mr Sharma insisted the R value "continues" to stay below one.

A Downing Street spokesman said there was “no update” from chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty on whether the level had changed.

It was confirmed at the press conference that the UK's official death toll had increased by 286 since yesterday, to at least 40,883.

Earlier it was revealed that the week ending May 29 saw the lowest proportion of coronavirus deaths in England and Wales since the lockdown was imposed.

Credit: 10 Downing Street

ONS figures showed there were 9,824 deaths registered in the week ending May 29 – a fall from the previous week but still 1,653 deaths higher than what would usually be expected, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Of these, 1,822 involved Covid-19 – 18.5% of the total that week and the lowest number of weekly coronavirus deaths for eight weeks.

Despite deaths continuing to fall, there are still around 20% more weekly deaths than the average for normal times, and the death toll for the UK is now at least 45,000.

As the UK contends with the coronavirus pandemic, the government is facing renewed calls to remove statues around the country which commemorate British slave traders.

The Black Lives Matter movement is back at the fore following the killing by police of unarmed George Floyd.