Hopes for confirmation of a 4 July opening date for hospitality have grown after the Covid-19 alert level was reduced from four to three.
A level three alert reflects the virus still being in general circulation, but allows for a gradual relaxation of restrictions.
The move would seem to support the government's roadmap for unlocking the economy, which had tentatively set out a 4 July opening date for some areas of hospitality under stage three of the proposal. Stage two saw the opening of non-essential retail on Monday.
Today's news comes as pressure builds on the government to confirm the date as well as details of who will be able to open and under what restrictions.
The move to level three followed the advice of the chief medical officers for England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, who said: "There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues. It does not mean that the pandemic is over. The virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur.
"We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues."