Boris Johnson’s address to the nation was watched by almost 30 million people on Sunday night.
The Prime Minister’s “first sketch of a road map” for restarting the economy and social lives in England after the coronavirus lockdown provided bumper ratings for broadcasters in the 7pm slot.
Some 18.7 million people tuned in on BBC One, peaking at 20.1 million, according to overnight ratings, while a further 1.4 million watched on the BBC News channel, the corporation said.
An average of 4.9 million people watched on ITV, peaking at 5 million, and a further 800,000 watched on Channel 4 and 390,000 on Channel 5, the broadcasters said.
Some 1.4 million people were viewing on Sky News and 90,000 on Sky One, according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board.
In a broadcast from Downing Street on Sunday evening, the PM said a phased reopening of schools and non-essential shops in England could potentially begin from June 1 if Covid-19 transmission can be reduced.
He also said people who cannot work from home should be “actively encouraged” to return to their jobs from Monday, and granted unlimited exercise in England from Wednesday.
Government officials said tennis, water sports, angling and golf will be permitted as long as social distancing is enforced.
And people will also be allowed to sunbathe or chat in English parks with one other person from a different household as long as two-metre distancing is maintained.