Schools in Bolton and across the country will reopen on March 8, a government minister has confirmed this morning.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said on the radio and TV this morning that schools will be returning on March 8 with outdoor socialising also returning in March.

He said the vaccine programme was going well and allowed the government to open schools at this time, with children being at school the main priority.

Mr Zahawi told Sky News: "We wouldn’t be in this place this morning to be able to say that we’re going to reopen schools on March 8, and of course, as the school holidays begin on March 29, we will look at the rule of six and two families being (able) to see each other outdoors, if we’re not confident that actually the vaccine programme is beginning to really bear fruit.”

He then added: "So at the moment, the focus is very much on the steady as she goes.

"Outdoor versus indoor, priority being children in schools, second priority is obviously allowing two people on March 8 to meet outside for a coffee to address some of the issues around loneliness and of course mental health as well."