Large events without masks and social distancing could be as safe as going to a restaurant or shopping centre, government trials suggest.

The Times reports preliminary data from the events research programme is understood to have found that with screening, improved ventilation and other mitigating factors, the risk of virus transmission can be significantly reduced.

The results will boost hopes in the night-time sector and other events that the end of restrictions can go ahead as planned on June 21 despite the spread of the Indian variant.

A government source told The Times: “We are still waiting for the final bits of data but the results so far have been very encouraging,” the source said.

“It will help make the case that these large events are not inherently more risky than other parts of the hospitality sector. It shows that there are things that you can do to make these settings as safe as other daily activities.

“It is true that they are not going to be 100% safe but you can lower the risk to a reasonable level.”