The 4 July has been confirmed as the date for pubs, bars and restaurants to be allowed to reopen, business secretary Alok Sharma has announced.

Speculation had been mounting that that date would be bought forward to 22 June after positive noises from the PM and press reports over the weekend.

However, the business secretary quashed the speculation at the government’s 5pm briefing and specified the 4 July would “be the earliest” that hospitality could reopen.

He also said guidance on how they would need to reopen to protect staff and customers from the coronavirus was coming soon, saying “as soon as we can, we will publish further safer working guidance for restaurants, pubs and bars.”

The decision is likely to further frustrate hospitality businesses who are desperate to reopen sooner than 4 July, but also because they are still lacking the detail required for them to plan any reopening effectively.

Once questions were opened up to journalists, the BBC’s Vicki Young said “many businesses, including pubs and restaurants, say that the two metre rule means that it is impossible for them to make a profit. The World Health Organisation recommends one metre. Have you been arguing for that to change?”

Sharma replied by saying the “two metre rule is currently in place, we take advice from our scientists from Sage and, of course, 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.

“You’ve made the point that there are other countries in the world that have moved from two metres to closer distances. Of course they are further along in terms of their roadmap, in terms of opening up businesses, but I said we keep these matters under review.

Young followed up by asking “how soon could that [a reduction from two metres to one metre] happen in your opinion?”

Sharma replied saying he couldn’t answer the question, but that what the government is doing is “opening up the economy in a really phased manner. I think that’s the right approach, we’re taking a cautious view on this.

“I have conversations on a daily basis with businesses and what they all recognise is the worst possible thing that could happen is that we have a second peak, we lose all the gains that we have gotten so far.

“I completely understand why for economic reasons businesses will want to have a look at this two metre rule. As I said, with all of these matters, we keep this under review.”