It comes after scientists called for bars and restaurants to stay shut till May, warning that reopening society too quickly could have a “disastrous” effect.
Dr Marc Baguelin, of Imperial College London, who sits on a pandemic modelling group advising the Government, warned that the opening of the hospitality sector within the next three months could lead to another “bump” in transmission.
The Prime Minister will set out his lockdown road map for England on February 22, including dates for when pubs and restaurants can welcome back customers.
Outside markets and al fresco dining are expected to get the green light before high street shops and indoor meals, according to the Times’s sources.
However, they stressed that the plans are still “tentative”, with the return of schools on March 8, the only date to be widely confirmed.
Responding to the claims on Friday morning, foreign minister James Cleverly said he was unable to provide a timetable for the lifting of measures, but stressed that plans will take into consideration “the needs of the economy, people’s mental health, the education of our children”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I can’t give you absolute guarantees of exactly when restrictions will be eased, in which order, in which sectors, I’m just not able to do that.
“But those decisions will be guided by the science. They will take into consideration the needs of the economy, people’s mental health, the education of our children, all these things are incredibly important.
“And I totally get the frustration that we all feel with these restrictions, but they are there for a reason.”
Boris Johnson hopes to set out plan for easing lockdown measures in England at the end of February
It comes after Mr Johnson hinted that England’s previous four-tiered system would not be revivied once lockdown ends.
Mr Johnson told reporters in Batley, West Yorkshire, on Monday: “It may be that a national approach, going down the tiers in a national way, might be better this time round, given that the disease is behaving much more nationally.
“If you look at the way the new variant has taken off across the country, it’s a pretty national phenomenon.
“The charts I see, we’re all sort of moving pretty much in the same sort of way, I mean there are a few discrepancies, a few differences, so it may be that we will go for a national approach but there may be an advantage still in some regional differentiation as well. I’m keeping an open mind on that.”
Ministers have previously said they expected a return to a regional tiers system.
On January 27, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said “it’s sensible that we target restrictions on those places where the virus is most prevalent”.