People have been told to resist the sunny weather and stay indoors this bank holiday weekend as a cabinet minister insisted there had been no "green light to abandon the lockdown".

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News the coronavirus social distancing message remained the same until the prime minister makes an address to the nation on Sunday evening, and even then warned people not to expect big changes.

There would only be very small tentative steps, conditional on the scientific evidence, he said as he sought to downplay expectations raised by Boris Johnson over changes to the COVID-19 lockdown ahead of the VE Day bank holiday.

There have also been concerns about mixed messages, after newspaper reports suggested sunbathing and picnics could be allowed as early as Monday.

It came as much of the UK will be basked in glorious sunshine, with temperatures expected to reach up to 26C (78.8F) on Friday.

Mr Dowden said: The public have not been given a green light to abandon the lockdown.

We are passed that first peak but we have to ensure that we don’t allow a second peak that overwhelms the NHS because that would destroy all the hard work we have put in so far.

It will only be very small tentative steps from Sunday, conditional on the scientific evidence.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: Of course I want the economy to be opened as quickly as possible but that has to be consistent with public health.

This weekend… the message remains the same. People need to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

On Sunday, what the prime minister will do is set out the roadmap for the months ahead. We have passed the peak of the infection so we can now start to look to the future.

But I have to say these will be very very limited steps and very conditional steps.

If the is any evidence the reinfection rate is starting to rise back out of control we will be pull back on those lockdown measures.

Don’t expect big changes from the prime minister on Sunday.

We will set out that roadmap so people can see where we are going but we will only go through each phase of that roadmap if we are permitted to do so by the evidence.

The 75th anniversary of VE Day had been expected to be one of the most memorable events of 2020, with the government moving the May Bank Holiday from Monday to Friday to allow celebrations to take place.

But social distancing requirements have meant the cancellation of a veterans’ procession, street parties, the creation of Victory Park featuring examples of Second World War life in London’s St James’ Park, and broadcasts from public spaces of Churchill’s famous victory speech.

The Queen will make a TV address from Windsor, her second televised message during the coronavirus outbreak, following her 5 April broadcast which concluded with a nod to the words of Vera Lynn’s classic wartime anthem: We will meet again.

The prime minister has already visited Westminster Abbey to light a candle of remembrance at the grave of the Unknown Warrior.

In a letter paying tribute to veterans, the prime minister said the UK’s response to the coronavirus demands the same effort and courage as the armed forces showed in the Second World War.
(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: Public told to stay indoors as UK basks in VE Day bank holiday sunshine