UK lockdown restrictions will continue for "at least" another three weeks, the foreign secretary Dominic Raab said in the Downing Street press briefing on 16 April.
The foreign secretary said that a review had concluded relaxing the coronavirus lockdown now would risk harming public health and the economy.
"We still don't have the infection rate down as far as we need to," he said.
The lockdown was extended on the day that the UK recorded another 861 coronavirus deaths in hospital, taking the total to 13,729.
Ministers are required by law to assess whether the rules are working, based on expert advice, every three weeks.
Mr Raab, deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is recovering from coronavirus at Chequers, said: "There is light at the end of the tunnel but we are now at both a delicate and a dangerous stage in this pandemic.
"If we rush to relax the measures that we have in place we would risk wasting all the sacrifices and all the progress that has been made.
"That would risk a quick return to another lockdown with all the threat to life that a second peak to the virus would bring and all the economic damage that a second lockdown would carry."
Mr Raab said the review concluded that the measures were working, but there was evidence the infection was spreading in hospitals and care homes.
He said five conditions needed to be met before the lockdown was eased:
1. Making sure the NHS could cope
2. A "sustained and consistent" fall in the daily death rate
3. Reliable data showing the rate of infection was decreasing to "manageable levels"
4. Ensuring the supply of tests and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) could meet future demand
5. Being confident any adjustments will "not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS".
He added: "The worst thing we could do now is ease up too soon and allow a second peak of the virus to hit the NHS and hit the British people.
"It would be the worst outcome, not just for public health, but for the economy and for our country as a whole."
He said he could not provide a definitive timeline, but that the prime minister's warning at the outset of the epidemic that it would take about three months to come through the peak still applied.
What are the coronavirus lockdown rules introduced on 23 March?
You should only leave your home to:
1. Shop for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
2. Take one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household
3. Medical need or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
4. Travel to and from work (but only if you cannot cannot work from home)
All non-essential shops have closed. Those businesses allowed to open are food shops, pharmacies, corner shops, hardware stores, petrol stations, pet shops, post offices, banks, newsagents and shops inside hospitals. Gyms including outdoor gyms and children's playgrounds have been closed, as have all places of worship except for funerals.
All gatherings of more than two people are banned except for members of your own household. Police have the power to issue on-the-spot fines of £60 for meeting without good reason. The fine can be halved to £30 if paid swiftly and repeat offenders will be hit by a doubling of the fine each time.