Britain has a large prison population compared to other European countries, with more than 80,000 people in custody. Prisons have continued running even though more than a fourth of staff has been absent or self-isolating.
The ministry reported that 88 inmates and 15 prison staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and that at least three prisoners have died from the virus.
The U.K. is the latest country to take steps to release certain nonviolent prisoners in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
Last week, France released 5,000 of its prisoners.