Brits could be enjoying summer garden parties and barbecues with family and friends as early as next month.

At yesterday's daily briefing, Boris Johnson gave the green light for small social gatherings outside from the end of June as the Government continues to ease lockdown restrictions.

The Daily Telegraph reports, meanwhile, the Prime Minister also brought up the idea of introducing wider 'social bubbles' during a cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon, hours before the press conference.

The scheme - which could see up to 10 people come together outside - has already proved popular in New Zealand, though the Pacific Ocean island nation has only recorded 21 Covid-19 deaths, compared to Britain's 37,000.

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A group of friends enjoy the sunshine in London Fields earlier this month

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is understood to have advised ministers the chances of contracting and passing on the killer bug are significantly reduced outdoors.

A spokesman told the Telegraph Downing Street is "open" to the prospect of social bubbles, particularly as a way of ensuring the mental health of locked down Brits.

The Government's 50-page 'road map' to end lockdown, unveiled last month, had referred to increasing measures to allow for more social contact.

Barbecues and garden parties are set to be allowed from June

It said: "The intention of this change would be to allow those who are isolated some more social contact, and to reduce the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions, while continuing to limit the risk of chains of transmission."

It is currently unclear, however, whether allowing social gatherings in the coming weeks is set to go hand in hand with the prospect of 'social bubbles'.

The under-fire PM also yesterday announced outdoor markets and car showrooms can reopen next week - with other "non essential" shops to follow a fortnight later.

Boris Johnson is ramping up the easing of lockdown restrictions

Speaking at the briefing, he said the first wave of reopenings - where trading can largely be done outside - can happen from June 1.

Shops selling items including clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics will then be allowed to reopen on June 15 - if government safety tests are met.

Social distancing measures must remain in place, the PM said.

He said: "I want people to be confident they can shop safely provided they follow social distancing rules."

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Coronavirus outbreak

However this will be dependent on key tests, including a drop in new infections and deaths, being met.

The UK's confirmed  coronavirus death toll rose to 36,914 after a further 121 fatalities  were announced yesterday.

Health authorities earlier said 77 people had died in hospitals in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - the lowest figure since the lockdown began on March 23.

The announcement was made as the Prime Minister faces pressure to sack his chief advisor Dominic Cummings.

Yesterday afternoon Cummings  refused to apologise for making a 260 mile journey to Durham from London  after his wife developed  coronavirus  symtoms.

The lunchtime Cabinet meeting saw ministers agree which restrictions could be eased next.

The formal three-week lockdown review takes place on Thursday – fuelling hopes the lifting of more curbs could be unveiled later in the week.

Schools in England are due to open to children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on Monday.

But pubs will not reopen before July at the earliest.