Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has rejected demands from MPs for a restriction-free April reopening date.

More than 60 ministers in the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) have sought to increase pressure on the Prime Minister ahead of his 22 February announcement, insisting he commit to a clear timetable for the lifting of restrictions.

In a letter, the group said pubs and restaurants must be able to open in a “commercially viable manner” from Easter, and that lockdown should come to an end as soon as the top nine priority groups are vaccinated by the end of April.

Speaking on Times Radio, Raab said that reopening pubs before Easter was unlikely.

“What I can tell you is that schools are the priority,” he said. “On top of that, in terms of business, non-essential retail and then, after that, I suppose given the wider risk of transmission, we want to get hospitality open.

“But the truth is it does need to be evidence-driven. You’ve got to see how the vaccine rollout works and gauge the impact it has on the virus, including the variations. Which is why it’s difficult to set out with a cast-iron guarantee what the plans will be in the way that some of my colleagues wish us to.”

It’s understood that ministers are considering a series of plans for reopening, one of which could see pubs and restaurants open for outside service in April and for indoor service in May.