The Prime Minister said not being able to secure childcare was a reason to be let off returning to work.

Boris Johnson was responding to a question from the public about what parents could do about going back to work if their children were not yet entitled to return to school and they could not acquire childcare.

Mr Johnson said he “hoped to get more primary school children back”.

But he added: “We are doing a huge amount to support families in terms of their income and their basic inability to go back to work.

“As I said several times, obviously employers have to be reasonable and if someone can’t get childcare then that is clearly a reason for them not to be able to go back to work.

“We will try and get more schools back in due course but it is, I’m afraid, all conditional on making progress in fighting that virus.”

Mr Johnson has also said there will be “many, many job losses” as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

But he promised the Government would take an “activist” approach to reviving the economy.