More than 38 million people in England live in areas that are recording virtually no new cases of Covid, an analysis by The Times has shown.

Seven in ten people live in areas where a maximum of two infections were reported during the most recent week for which data is available.

Scientific advisers to the government said the figures signalled that the schedule for lifting lockdown measures remained on track. Ministers are expected to meet next week to decide whether the next step will go ahead as planned on May 17.

Cinemas and indoor soft-play centres are expected to reopen, along with the largest outdoor venues, though attendances would be capped. The rule of six people or two households would apply for people meeting inside

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