Covid lockdown rules lifted: Revellers return to pubs for first night of freedom after rules eased

Revellers last night enjoyed a taste of lockdown freedom with their first pub drink in four months, as England lifted more Covid restrictions.  

In scenes described by some as ‘like VE Day’, revellers flooded back to pubs up and down the country as they threw open their beer gardens and outdoor drinking areas for the first time since early January.

Shops, gyms and hairdressers were also allowed to reopen for the first time since England’s third national lockdown was imposed – giving Britons a chance to finally cut back their lockdown haircut.

But as the drink flowed, and day turned to night, rowdy revellers faced a crackdown from police.

Officers were seen attempting to enforce social distancing n London’s famous nightlife district of Soho.

Last year the area saw streets filled with revellers – with seemingly little social distancing in place – after previous lockdown measures were lifted.

However officers were quick to ensure there were no repeat of last summer’s wild scenes in Soho, by stepping in to break up big crowds.

One man was seen appearing detained by three masked police officers, who held his arms behind his back as he was against a railing.

Meanwhile, a group of girls were seen cheering, singing and celebrating as they enjoyed their first night out in four months.

Crowds were seen gathered in Newcastle however, where pictures captured a raucous party-goer lying in the road with drink-in-hand as revellers watched on in surprise.

In Manchester and Leeds pub-goers were dressed in their glad rags as they enjoyed their first night on the town in four months.

Revellers last night enjoyed a taste of lockdown freedom with their first pub drink in four months, as England lifted more Covid restrictions

Pubs up and down the country threw open their beer gardens and outdoor drinking areas for the first time since early January, while shops, gyms and hairdressers were finally allowed to reopen. Pictured: Police attempted to maintain order in Soho last night

Pubs up and down the country threw open their beer gardens and outdoor drinking areas for the first time since early January, while shops, gyms and hairdressers were finally allowed to reopen. Pictured: Police attempted to maintain order in Soho last night

One man was seen appearing detained by three masked police officers, who held his arms behind his back as he was against a railing

One man was seen appearing detained by three masked police officers, who held his arms behind his back as he was against a railing

But as day turned to night, and the drinks flowed, rowdy revellers faced a crackdown from police. Officers were seen attempting to enforce social distancing n London's famous nightlife district of Soho. Pictured: Revellers enjoyed a night out in Manchester after restrictions were lifted

But as day turned to night, and the drinks flowed, rowdy revellers faced a crackdown from police. Officers were seen attempting to enforce social distancing n London’s famous nightlife district of Soho. Pictured: Revellers enjoyed a night out in Manchester after restrictions were lifted

Crowds were seen gathered in Newcastle, where pictures show a raucous party-goer lying in the road with drink-in-hand as revellers watched on in surprise.

Crowds were seen gathered in Newcastle, where pictures show a raucous party-goer lying in the road with drink-in-hand as revellers watched on in surprise.

In Leeds a group of girls were seen cheering and celebrating as they enjoyed their first night out in four months

In Leeds a group of girls were seen cheering and celebrating as they enjoyed their first night out in four months

While some of the scenes in Newcastle showed wild partygoers in the street, there were also much more civilised scenes in one pug, where a group of friends enjoyed a round of drinks

While some of the scenes in Newcastle showed wild partygoers in the street, there were also much more civilised scenes in one pug, where a group of friends enjoyed a round of drinks

Police officers had earlier been seen patrolling popular Old Compton Street and neighbouring areas, after revellers had flocked there to enjoy al-fresco dining and drinks.

Several West End streets were closed to traffic between 5pm-11pm to create outdoor seating areas as part of measures implemented by Westminster City Council to support hospitality businesses.

Pictures and videos being shared online show people packed onto tables laden with food and drinks, while several dozen more stood on the streets cheering the first night of pubs and bars reopening.

Attila Kulcsar, a media communications manager, said the crowds felt ‘like a return to the ‘real’ Soho of the 1990s’.

‘Tonight’s atmosphere beats the whole of last summer… it really is like how I imagine VE Day,’ the 54-year-old said.

‘It’s almost like watching Hogarth paintings come to life in 2021. There is a wonderfully raucous hysteria everywhere. It’s very celebratory.

Revellers were seen drinking from plastic cups on the streets of Soho on Monday night, as restrictions were finally lifted in England

Revellers were seen drinking from plastic cups on the streets of Soho on Monday night, as restrictions were finally lifted in England

Police were seen to intervene in London's Soho district, where revellers gathered for the first time in more than four months

Police were seen to intervene in London’s Soho district, where revellers gathered for the first time in more than four months

Officers, all wearing face masks, were seen talking to revellers as the night went on and the drink continued to flow

Officers, all wearing face masks, were seen talking to revellers as the night went on and the drink continued to flow

Officers were seen keeping a watchful eye over revellers on Monday night, with restrictions on social distancing and other measures still in place

Officers were seen keeping a watchful eye over revellers on Monday night, with restrictions on social distancing and other measures still in place

But the police presence did not appear to dampen the mood in Soho, where groups of six headed out to enjoy their first taste of post-lockdown freedom

But the police presence did not appear to dampen the mood in Soho, where groups of six headed out to enjoy their first taste of post-lockdown freedom

‘There is very little social distancing. A distinct sense that people feel the Covid restrictions have ended.

‘There are lots of police around Soho as well as Covid Marshalls, but there is no word from them about social distancing… if anything they seem to be joining in the festivities.’

Westminster City Council said it was aware of ‘isolated incidents of crowding’ and that it was working with businesses to ensure they are operating ‘responsibly and safely in line with guidance’.

A council spokesperson said: ‘We are pleased that visitors can return to the city and enjoy the shops and outdoor hospitality safely.

‘We have implemented a range of measures across Westminster to enable social distancing, including additional footway space and barriers.

No-one said anything about social distancing with animals! One man enjoyed a can of beer with his dog out in Soho as restrictions were finally lifted

No-one said anything about social distancing with animals! One man enjoyed a can of beer with his dog out in Soho as restrictions were finally lifted

‘We also have Covid Marshalls and city inspectors working across the city to help businesses support accessibility, social distancing and to respond to any issues.’

Earlier in the day, shoppers hit the high streets as non essential stores reopened once more, while indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos also welcomed customers back.

Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at Warwick Medical School, described ‘a joyous day’ but warned people should remain cautious.

He said: ‘The current reduction in cases and hospitalisations is not only due to the success of the vaccine rollout but also the impact of lockdown in preventing virus spread.

‘So while taking the opportunity to enjoy shopping and outside hospitality, we must remain cautious – the virus is still out there and very infectious.

‘We can’t ignore what’s going on in the rest of the world – every other day new variants are being reported and infection is rife.’

Also include bit of this from the Tel, though we may already have it:

Pubs and bars face fines or the removal of their licences over queues on the street after officials threatened to crack down on the most popular venues as they reopened on Monday.

Scores of people queued outside pubs around the country as they reopened for business in line with the second step of lockdown easing.

It comes after Lockdown-weary Britons yesterday rushed back to the pub for a well-earned drink as England took another step forward on the roadmap out of lockdown.

The ‘Glorious Twelfth’: What can you do from today? (And what do we still have to wait for?) 

  • All non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen, as will hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms and swimming pools, with no group classes allowed.
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes can reopen for outdoor service, but will have to wait until at least May 17 to serve customers indoors.
  • Mass testing to be available, with everyone urged to take two tests per week.
  • New care home rules will allow residents to have two visitors, rather than just one.
  • Self-catering accommodation, including campsites, can reopen, but hotels and B&Bs must remain closed until at least May 17.
  • Shops will be allowed to stay open until 10pm, six days a week, in a bid to reduce crowding.
  • The maximum number of people allowed to attend weddings and wakes will rise from six to 15.
  • Public buildings can reopen, as can outdoor attractions such as theme parks and zoos.
  • Controversial hospitality rules such as the 10pm curfew and requirement to buy a ‘substantial meal’ with alcohol will be dropped.
  • Clothes shops will be allowed to reopen their changing rooms for the first time in more than a year.

Still banned – 

Until May 17 at the earliest: Gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors, with the rule of six and two-household rule indoors; pubs and restaurants will reopen indoors; and controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted. 

Outdoor events will be allowed to have a capacity of 50 per cent or 4,000 people, whichever is lower; while special provisions will be made for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be spaced out, with up to 10,000 people or 25 per cent of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.

Up to 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events, including wakes. Indoor gatherings like exercise classes will be given the go ahead. 

Until June 21 at the earliest: All legal limits on social contact will be lifted and nightclubs reopened.  

For the first time in four months, non-essential shops, gyms and salons were allowed to throw open their doors – much to the delight of the millions of Britons desperate to shed their lockdown haircuts.

But few were more delighted than pub-goers, who were finally given the green light to return to beer gardens across England today. 

Drinkers were seen enjoying pints in outdoor areas across London, Manchester and other major cities this afternoon.

London’s Soho was packed as bars set-up outdoor seating areas in the street to welcome back customers for the first time since December. 

And at one pub, the Fox on the Hill, in London, the whole parking area was converted into a make-shift outdoor area – which was this afternoon filled with revellers rushing to return to their local watering hole.

It comes amid confusion over what counts as a legitimate outdoor seating area, with some pubs ready for reopening told they would have to either close their beer gardens or reduce capacity. 

Government guidance states that shelters, marquees, and other temporary structures with roofs must have half their walls open at all times to be classed as being outdoors. 

However, councils are interpreting the rules differently, leading to outcry from some landlords and restaurant owners who have only just been told they supposedly breach the rules.

Elsewhere, pubs and restaurants in London’s West End enjoyed a lunch time rush, as customers made the most of the chance to sit and drink outdoors, despite the chilly weather. 

One unnamed Lancashire publican has written to the Prime Minister after being told his walled bar garden is not compliant, meaning he cannot reopen despite taking bookings for 1,000 meals, the Telegraph reported.    

Brett Mendoza, who runs the Caxton Arms in Brighton, installed a new roof, heaters and furniture and received 700 bookings ahead of his grand reopening – only to be told with 48 hours’ notice that his safety measures weren’t enough.

The landlord was told that because the garden is below street level and surrounded by four walls there is not enough ventilation to carry off molecules of the virus in air droplets.

The pub tweeted: ‘Yesterday Brighton Council decided that with or without the temporary roof, the garden is not Covid compliant and forced us to close. Reason: garden is below street level, surrounded by four walls, so air can’t flow. We will be contacting people to notify you of your cancellations.’

Mr Mendoza added: ‘Stock bought. Absolutely devastated. Appeal is in.’

However, the publican later came to an agreement with officials and will be allowed to open the outside space with a downsized capacity. 

A council spokesperson said: ‘We haven’t told any of our pubs that have outdoor seating areas that they can’t reopen.

‘We have been in discussions with the Caxton Arms about what is possible and appropriate at their premises. We have confirmed to them that their rear external area can operate in accordance with current restrictions.’ 

In other Covid news – 

  • Footfall analysts Springboard say they are expecting a near 50% uplift during the first week; 
  • 32,010,244 Britons have received the first dose of the vaccination, with a further 6,991,310 having had their second, as the UK recorded 1,730 new Covid cases – down a quarter on last week;  
  • Study by University College London (UCL) suggests that 73.4% of the population now have herd immunity either through vaccines or having had the virus; 
  • People in their 40s will be invited for Covid jabs from tomorrow after the Government hit its target on vaccinations for priority groups;
  • Dr Mike Tildesley, reader in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick and government adviser, welcomed opening but warned up uptick in cases;  
  • Kate Garraway revealed her children are ‘absolutely loving’ having their father Derek home after his long Covid battle;
  • England footballers James Maddison and Harvey Barnes were among five Leicester City players who ‘hid in the dark after manager Brendan Rogers caught them at a Covid lockdown-flouting party’;
  • Officers apologised to churchgoers after shutting down their Good Friday service for breaking Covid lockdown rules;
  • Students’ university comeback was delayed until mid-May amid fears mass return to lecture halls could spark a huge spike in Covid cases.
A customer warms her hands on a pavement heater outside a pub in the Soho area of London, as some restrictions are lifted on pubs and bars in England

A customer warms her hands on a pavement heater outside a pub in the Soho area of London, as some restrictions are lifted on pubs and bars in England

In Soho it was busy going into the evening, as friends gathered to meet outside the Three Greyhounds in Soho, London today

In Soho it was busy going into the evening, as friends gathered to meet outside the Three Greyhounds in Soho, London today

Two men embrace amongst people drinking outside in Soho as non essential retail and pubs reopened today for the first time in four months

Two men embrace amongst people drinking outside in Soho as non essential retail and pubs reopened today for the first time in four months

But police were keeping a watchful eye on proceedings in Soho, London, today, as hundreds gathered to drink outside of pubs in the popular nightlife area

But police were keeping a watchful eye on proceedings in Soho, London, today, as hundreds gathered to drink outside of pubs in the popular nightlife area

Drinkers outside the Faltering Fullback pub in Finsbury Park, North London, which opened again today for outside drinking

Drinkers outside the Faltering Fullback pub in Finsbury Park, North London, which opened again today for outside drinking

Revellers wearing umbrellas on their heads enjoy a drink outside at The Still & West pub at Spice Island in Portsmouth

Revellers wearing umbrellas on their heads enjoy a drink outside at The Still & West pub at Spice Island in Portsmouth 

I'll drink to that! Customers enjoy glasses of white win as they sit at outside tables as at a re-opened pub in Leeds, West Yorkshire

I’ll drink to that! Customers enjoy glasses of white win as they sit at outside tables as at a re-opened pub in Leeds, West Yorkshire

As England basked in sunshine this afternoon, pub goers Gabriella Lucena, 24, (left) and Gabrielle West, 28, (right) enjoyed a pint and a soft drink by the Thames at Hammersmith, West London with one-year-old Cocker Spaniel Lola

As England basked in sunshine this afternoon, pub goers Gabriella Lucena, 24, (left) and Gabrielle West, 28, (right) enjoyed a pint and a soft drink by the Thames at Hammersmith, West London with one-year-old Cocker Spaniel Lola

Police were out in force in Soho earlier today as drinkers rushed to outdoor areas to enjoy their first pint since lockdown began in January

Police were out in force in Soho earlier today as drinkers rushed to outdoor areas to enjoy their first pint since lockdown began in January

Dozens of tables were set out in what was a busy Soho street on Monday - as people enjoyed coffee and drinks ahead of the first night since measures were lifted

Dozens of tables were set out in what was a busy Soho street on Monday – as people enjoyed coffee and drinks ahead of the first night since measures were lifted

Soho was particularly busy on Monday as pub-goers headed to outdoor areas to enjoy their first pub pint since lockdown measures were eased

Soho was particularly busy on Monday as pub-goers headed to outdoor areas to enjoy their first pub pint since lockdown measures were eased 

Pubs in Soho set out large outdoor drinking areas in the street on Monday - with indoor service still banned until next month

Pubs in Soho set out large outdoor drinking areas in the street on Monday – with indoor service still banned until next month

Two friends enjoy a bottle of win on the streets of Soho today as lockdown restrictions on pubs are lifted for the first time since January

Two friends enjoy a bottle of win on the streets of Soho today as lockdown restrictions on pubs are lifted for the first time since January

It was a similar picture in Manchester today as tables were set out in the streets of the city centre - with special cocktail deals being advertised

It was a similar picture in Manchester today as tables were set out in the streets of the city centre – with special cocktail deals being advertised

The Old Wellington in Manchester was packed today as pub-goers returned to outdoor drinking areas for the first time since lockdown measures were lifted

The Old Wellington in Manchester was packed today as pub-goers returned to outdoor drinking areas for the first time since lockdown measures were lifted

People enjoy their drinks at The Fox on the Hill pub after its reopening toady. The area has a large outdoor seating area created from its car park

People enjoy their drinks at The Fox on the Hill pub after its reopening toady. The area has a large outdoor seating area created from its car park

Dozens of people gathered for the first time in months today at the pub, in London, following the lifting of restrictions on April 12

Dozens of people gathered for the first time in months today at the pub, in London, following the lifting of restrictions on April 12

Friends enjoyed a meal at the Fox on the Hill pub in London today, after restrictions were finally lifted to allow hospitality businesses to open outdoors

Friends enjoyed a meal at the Fox on the Hill pub in London today, after restrictions were finally lifted to allow hospitality businesses to open outdoors

Meanwhile, the Oak Inn in Coventry is being investigated by the local council after a queue of more than 100 people gathered outside to enjoy drinks in its large outdoor garden on the stroke of midnight.

While images of crowds in the venue’s heated garden appeared to show them well spaced and following the national guidance of no more than six per table, some commented that social distancing seemed not to be enforced in the queue outside.

A Coventry City Council spokeswoman said: ‘We will be investigating any venue reported to not be following these rules or having difficulties with large queues or unmanageable amounts of visitors.’

Darren Lee, owner of the Oak Inn, said he could not respond to the council as it had not yet contacted him, but said he believed the venue had worked within the rules. ‘We always do things safely and properly … we were able to get outside as per the national guidelines,’ he said.

It came as the excitement of lockdown easing got too much for some, with scuffles breaking out at Foot Locker on Oxford Street during a rush for limited-edition trainers and police called to control crowds outside the Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester.

Earlier, shoppers were seen waiting outside Arndale on camping chairs to ensure they were first in line for purchases – as an Ikea in Bristol saw 1,000 customers lining up outside.

The Met and Northumbria Police sent extra patrols into city centres to prepare for the deluge of custom. It comes after Boris Johnson last urged the public to ‘behave responsibly’ as restrictions are lifted. 

A little bit of snow wasn't enough to stop this hardy customer enjoying a pint by candlelight outside the Bowes Hotel in Bardon Mill, Northumberland

A little bit of snow wasn’t enough to stop this hardy customer enjoying a pint by candlelight outside the Bowes Hotel in Bardon Mill, Northumberland

Two hardy customers tucking into breakfast this morning at the Yangaz Bistro Grill in Cranleigh, Surrey

Two hardy customers tucking into breakfast this morning at the Yangaz Bistro Grill in Cranleigh, Surrey

Met Police officers were seen walking past a London pub terrace filled with customers as the force continues to monitor the public's behaviour on the first day of restrictions easing

Met Police officers were seen walking past a London pub terrace filled with customers as the force continues to monitor the public’s behaviour on the first day of restrictions easing

Friends enjoy pints and soft drinks at a seafront pub in Brighton  where temperatures have only hit 9C today

Friends enjoy pints and soft drinks at a seafront pub in Brighton  where temperatures have only hit 9C today

The Lynch family and friends laugh together whilst drinking beer in the garden of the The Duke of Kent pub, London which reopened at lunchtime today

The Lynch family and friends laugh together whilst drinking beer in the garden of the The Duke of Kent pub, London which reopened at lunchtime today

Why have one when you can have two! John Witts enjoys a drink at the reopening of the Figure of Eight pub in Birmingham, in one of the joyful scenes across the country today

Why have one when you can have two! John Witts enjoys a drink at the reopening of the Figure of Eight pub in Birmingham, in one of the joyful scenes across the country today 

The Gay Village in Manchester was bustling with people eating and drinking this afternoon as people enjoyed a pub lunch for the first time in months

The Gay Village in Manchester was bustling with people eating and drinking this afternoon as people enjoyed a pub lunch for the first time in months

The Fox on the Hill's beer garden in Camberwell was full of pub goers this afternoon as weather conditions across London improved throughout the day

The Fox on the Hill’s beer garden in Camberwell was full of pub goers this afternoon as weather conditions across London improved throughout the day 

The Met and Northumbria Police sent extra patrols into city centres to prepare for the deluge of customers at pubs and shops. It comes after Boris Johnson last urged the public to 'behave responsibly' as restrictions are lifted.

The Met and Northumbria Police sent extra patrols into city centres to prepare for the deluge of customers at pubs and shops. It comes after Boris Johnson last urged the public to ‘behave responsibly’ as restrictions are lifted.

A customer brings their dog along to enjoy a drink outside The Angel on the Bridge pub in Henley on Thames

A customer brings their dog along to enjoy a drink outside The Angel on the Bridge pub in Henley on Thames

Customers, one dressed as a Pirate, enjoy a drink at the re-opened Village pub in northeast London

Customers, one dressed as a Pirate, enjoy a drink at the re-opened Village pub in northeast London

There was room for a drink and a bite to eat at The Angel on the Bridge in Henley-on-Thames in west London this afternoon

There was room for a drink and a bite to eat at The Angel on the Bridge in Henley-on-Thames in west London this afternoon 

Tables were full in Manchester's Northern Quarter this afternoon as locals enjoyed the return of the pub lunch and the easing of lockdown rules

Tables were full in Manchester’s Northern Quarter this afternoon as locals enjoyed the return of the pub lunch and the easing of lockdown rules

Amber Harrison, Georgia Noon, Sara Barnes and Katie Davies enjoy a drink at the Escape to Freight Island bar in Depot Island, Manchester

Amber Harrison, Georgia Noon, Sara Barnes and Katie Davies enjoy a drink at the Escape to Freight Island bar in Depot Island, Manchester

Solo drinkers and groups were ready to embrace the return of beer gardens this afternoon at the Georgian Arms pub, London

Solo drinkers and groups were ready to embrace the return of beer gardens this afternoon at the Georgian Arms pub, London

Brighton welcomed back punters to the seafront this afternoon, despite the weather remaining cold and snow falling in parts of the country

Brighton welcomed back punters to the seafront this afternoon, despite the weather remaining cold and snow falling in parts of the country

Selfridges' rooftop terrace dining area in London welcomed back customers today. Businesses have filled outdoor spaces with heaters and covers to ensure no visitor is deterred by wet and cold weather

Selfridges’ rooftop terrace dining area in London welcomed back customers today. Businesses have filled outdoor spaces with heaters and covers to ensure no visitor is deterred by wet and cold weather 

Local man John Renshaw with a pint and a pasty at The Front pub on Custom House Quay in Falmouth

Local man John Renshaw with a pint and a pasty at The Front pub on Custom House Quay in Falmouth 

Families headed out to beer gardens this afternoon to enjoy a drink and some lunch after lockdown restrictions were eased across England. Pictured: Women being served at Hotel Rudyard in Leek, Staffordshire

Families headed out to beer gardens this afternoon to enjoy a drink and some lunch after lockdown restrictions were eased across England. Pictured: Women being served at Hotel Rudyard in Leek, Staffordshire

Friends Sue Bell (left) and Pippa Ingram with their drinks after being the first customers back into the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate

Friends Sue Bell (left) and Pippa Ingram with their drinks after being the first customers back into the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate

Customers enjoy a drink at the Escape to Freight Island bar in Depot Island, Manchester, on the first day of outdoor hospitality reopening

Customers enjoy a drink at the Escape to Freight Island bar in Depot Island, Manchester, on the first day of outdoor hospitality reopening 

Customers at the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent, enjoy breakfast and a pint on the first day of lockdown easing today

Customers at the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent, enjoy breakfast and a pint on the first day of lockdown easing today 

A group of friends enjoy a drink together at the Working Boat pub at the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth, Cornwall

A group of friends enjoy a drink together at the Working Boat pub at the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth, Cornwall 

People enjoy a drink in the beer garden of The Cat and Fiddle Inn in Macclesfield, Cheshire, as Covid restrictions were eased today

People enjoy a drink in the beer garden of The Cat and Fiddle Inn in Macclesfield, Cheshire, as Covid restrictions were eased today 

Customers enjoy a drink at the Switch bar in Newcastle shortly after midnight following the easing of lockdown measures

Customers enjoy a drink at the Switch bar in Newcastle shortly after midnight following the easing of lockdown measures

While colder weather has stopped beer gardens from being packed, some groups were determined to enjoy a drink in Leek

While colder weather has stopped beer gardens from being packed, some groups were determined to enjoy a drink in Leek

Screens have been placed between tables at Selfridges' rooftop cafe in London to ensure it complies with Covid-19 guidelines

Screens have been placed between tables at Selfridges’ rooftop cafe in London to ensure it complies with Covid-19 guidelines

Crowds headed to The Terrace Bar at Alexandra Palace in north London this afternoon to enjoy a drink, as pubs have remained shut since December in the capital

Crowds headed to The Terrace Bar at Alexandra Palace in north London this afternoon to enjoy a drink, as pubs have remained shut since December in the capital

Drinkers in Newcastle are taking advantage of the relaxed measures, including Danielle Naylor (left) and Charlotte France

Drinkers in Newcastle are taking advantage of the relaxed measures, including Danielle Naylor (left) and Charlotte France

Roads have been closed to make room for pedestrians and diners in Stephenson Square, Manchester, as pubs look to capitalise on hungry and thirsty customers

Roads have been closed to make room for pedestrians and diners in Stephenson Square, Manchester, as pubs look to capitalise on hungry and thirsty customers

Among those to travel to London to enjoy the relaxed restrictions was Deirdre Peachey. 

The 64-year-old had travelled from Sevenoaks, Kent for a day out in the capital accompanied by her daughter Erin, 42 and her grandchildren Charlie, 6 and Eva 5.

Ms Peachey said that they had visited Hamleys to buy toys for the children while she bought material at the Liberty store on Regent Street, which was followed by lunch.

She added: ‘It’s a bit chilly sitting out here but it’s wonderful to be able to shop again. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I’ve felt quite safe being out and about and it’s very reassuring to see people taking all the precautions required.

‘I feel as if I’ve been locked up for the past year and it’s just great to be able to go out and do normal things.’

Erin said: ‘I love coming into Central London to shop or have a meal and have really missed it. I’m delighted that I’ve been able to do this today because it feels that life is slowly returning to normal.

‘The kids have absolutely loved it. Charlie wanted a toy fish while Eva got a lot of other stuff. They’re really happy to be on their holidays and have a day out at the shops.’

In Chinatown, customers queued for up to 45 minutes for a table. Dozens were arranged outside restaurants that line the area’s main walkway with customers braving the cold to wolf down an assortment of delicacies.

On England's south coast, punters in Portsmouth enjoyed a drink at The Still and West pub, with table service in place while Covid restrictions remain

On England’s south coast, punters in Portsmouth enjoyed a drink at The Still and West pub, with table service in place while Covid restrictions remain

The easing of lockdown measures means people are allowed to eat and drink outside at pubs and restaurants. Indoor dining is expected to resume next month

The easing of lockdown measures means people are allowed to eat and drink outside at pubs and restaurants. Indoor dining is expected to resume next month

Oxford Street was packed with shoppers this afternoon as people took advantage of non-essential shops reopening in the capital for the first time this year

Oxford Street was packed with shoppers this afternoon as people took advantage of non-essential shops reopening in the capital for the first time this year 

Ellie Orton (left) and Natasha Dunn made sure to get out an enjoy a drink in Newcastle earlier this afternoon as lockdown eased

Ellie Orton (left) and Natasha Dunn made sure to get out an enjoy a drink in Newcastle earlier this afternoon as lockdown eased

Police are monitoring pubs and restaurants' activities as they welcome back outdoor diners and drinkers in Newcastle today

Police are monitoring pubs and restaurants’ activities as they welcome back outdoor diners and drinkers in Newcastle today 

Customers toast as they enjoy a drink at the Switch bar in Newcastle shortly after midnight to toast the reopening of pubs

Customers toast as they enjoy a drink at the Switch bar in Newcastle shortly after midnight to toast the reopening of pubs 

Gary Gearing (left) and Lee Cooper enjoy their breakfast and a pint at the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent

Gary Gearing (left) and Lee Cooper enjoy their breakfast and a pint at the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent

A group of friends at the Fox on the Hill, a Wetherspoon's pub in Camberwell with a large outdoor area

A group of friends at the Fox on the Hill, a Wetherspoon’s pub in Camberwell with a large outdoor area 

Women take a selfie with their drinks at The Fox on the Hill in London on the first day of pubs reopening in London

Women take a selfie with their drinks at The Fox on the Hill in London on the first day of pubs reopening in London 

Britons today toasted a significant easing of coronavirus restrictions, with early morning pints - and much-needed haircuts - as the country took a tentative step towards the resumption of normal life. Pictured is The Fox on the Hill in London

Britons today toasted a significant easing of coronavirus restrictions, with early morning pints – and much-needed haircuts – as the country took a tentative step towards the resumption of normal life. Pictured is The Fox on the Hill in London 

Some pubs, now allowed to serve outside, wasted no time and opened on the stroke of midnight. Others, like this one, opened later - but still much earlier than normal, and just in time for breakfast

Some pubs, now allowed to serve outside, wasted no time and opened on the stroke of midnight. Others, like this one, opened later – but still much earlier than normal, and just in time for breakfast

People enjoy their drinks at the Georgian Arms pub in London following its reopening today, although venues with no outside space have had to remain shut

People enjoy their drinks at the Georgian Arms pub in London following its reopening today, although venues with no outside space have had to remain shut 

A couple sit in a restaurant on the roof of the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, London on the first day of its reopening

A couple sit in a restaurant on the roof of the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, London on the first day of its reopening

Joe Foyster receives a free haircut from Michael Douglas, whilst having a pint of beer at a pop-up hairdressing station at The Gregorian pub in Bermondsey

Joe Foyster receives a free haircut from Michael Douglas, whilst having a pint of beer at a pop-up hairdressing station at The Gregorian pub in Bermondsey

People enjoy glasses of bubbly at The Fox on the Hill pub in London this morning after beer gardens were allowed to reopen

People enjoy glasses of bubbly at The Fox on the Hill pub in London this morning after beer gardens were allowed to reopen  

Si Ling, who works at the Four Seasons restaurant said: ‘We’ve been very busy even though it’s not really weather for sitting out. The past few months have been very hard because not only has business been bad but so has morale.

‘Things are looking up again and it makes me really happy to see customers returning and enjoying our food.’

Many pubs had set up outdoor areas in the Soho area where customers enjoyed a pint or a drink outdoors.

Brian Fowler, 26 who was sipping a pint in a plastic glass beamed: ‘It’s a great feeling to be able to buy a pint in a pub and have a chat with my mate.

‘I know the pubs are not fully open yet, because you can’t drink inside, but it feels as if we are heading in the right direction.

‘I’m not a big drinker but I’ve really missed the social aspect of going to the pub. The last few months have been very boring as I don’t enjoy sitting in doors drinking. The weather’s not great so it is a pity that we can’t go inside and prop up the bar.’

The vaccine programme coupled with the ‘palpable sense of excitement’ is expected to make this post-lockdown reopening the strongest yet, with customers are predicted to spend £4.5billion this week. 

More than half of hospitality businesses that are opening have splashed out to make outdoor areas bigger, spending an average of £9,040 on each venue, according to industry group UKHospitality. 

Pubs have been flooded with bookings, with the British Beer and Pub Association predicting the nation will get through 15million pints this week.  

Customers cheered as the first pints were served at the UK’s biggest pub on Monday after coronavirus restrictions were eased.

Pippa Ingram, 51, and Sue Bell, 55, were presented with the first drinks on a chilly morning in Ramsgate, Kent at the Royal Victoria Pavilion, believed to be the largest in the country.

As the pints were brought to their table Ms Ingram celebrated getting a drink ‘from a proper pub!’

She added: ‘Absolutely delicious. It’s not gonna last long at all! That is banging.’ 

Trainer shops proved to be particularly popular today with long queues forming before they even opened.

Scores of youngsters started gathering outside Foot Locker on Oxford Street from 7am with the store forced to open earlier than it’s initial scheduled time of 10am.

Security had to be brought in after scuffles broke out with enthusiastic shoppers eager to get in.

One security guard who was standing by the store with a guard dog told MailOnline: ‘We’ve had some scuffles and people banging on the windows of the store.

‘It’s mainly kids who are after a particular brand of trainers. But there is a lot of excitement that the shops have reopened. Hopefully the novelty of it will soon wear off.’ 

The sun came out on the seafront in Brighton this afternoon as beach bars started getting busy for lunchtime

The sun came out on the seafront in Brighton this afternoon as beach bars started getting busy for lunchtime 

Friends enjoying a drink on Brighton Beach, where temperatures remained a chilly 5C into the afternoon

Friends enjoying a drink on Brighton Beach, where temperatures remained a chilly 5C into the afternoon 

Eager customers wasted no time in making the most of the easing of coronavirus restrictions on today as the country took the next significant step on its journey out of a third national lockdown. Pictured are drinkers in Windsor

Eager customers wasted no time in making the most of the easing of coronavirus restrictions on today as the country took the next significant step on its journey out of a third national lockdown. Pictured are drinkers in Windsor 

Punters desperate for a freshly-poured pint can quench their thirst in beer gardens, and diners can eat al fresco on restaurant terraces as outdoor hospitality venues reopen

Punters desperate for a freshly-poured pint can quench their thirst in beer gardens, and diners can eat al fresco on restaurant terraces as outdoor hospitality venues reopen

Early-morning queues formed outside clothing stores, with thousands of non-essential retail premises now eligible to resume trading, while dozens of revellers were seen out in Windsor (pictured)

Early-morning queues formed outside clothing stores, with thousands of non-essential retail premises now eligible to resume trading, while dozens of revellers were seen out in Windsor (pictured) 

Cheers to the end of lockdown! Two men enjoy beers outside a restaurant in Windsor amid similar scenes across the country today

Cheers to the end of lockdown! Two men enjoy beers outside a restaurant in Windsor amid similar scenes across the country today 

A group of friends enjoying the sunny weather in Windsor, Berkshire, after Covid rules were relaxed to allow for outdoor hospitality

A group of friends enjoying the sunny weather in Windsor, Berkshire, after Covid rules were relaxed to allow for outdoor hospitality 

Many punters were forced to wait outside The Friendship Inn in Fallowfield as it filled up quickly after opening at midday

Many punters were forced to wait outside The Friendship Inn in Fallowfield as it filled up quickly after opening at midday

The Friendship Inn in Fallowfield, south Manchester, which was popular with drinkers today thanks to its large outdoor seating area

The Friendship Inn in Fallowfield, south Manchester, which was popular with drinkers today thanks to its large outdoor seating area 

A waiter serving tables in Windsor, where the town centre was bustling with visitors in a return to something like normality

A waiter serving tables in Windsor, where the town centre was bustling with visitors in a return to something like normality 

Simeon Banks, 22 who had just purchased two pairs of Nike Jordan’s said: ‘I collect and resell trainers. While I do it online I prefer going into shops to touch and feel them.

‘I’m happy that the shops have opened because it’s more fun buying trainers in person.’

In Manchester, some desperate shoppers queued from 4am as they tried to get their hands on bargains.

There was a large police presence in the city centre, including a police van parked at the top of Market Street and four officers outside M&S.

One 17-year-old, who only gave his name as Alexander, was first in the queue at Size? shoe shop.

He told MailOnline: ‘I want to get some Nike trainers. There’s only a few going and there’s a restock going on. I really want them.’

There were also similar queues outside Foot Locker.

Student Simon Smith, 19, said: ‘I want to get some trainers. It’s pretty mad there’s so many people in the queue. There must be nearly 100 people waiting to get in.’

Primark shopper Kelly Ward, 20, had also queued from 7am to get some pajamas and slippers.

The student said: ‘I have been so looking forward to this day. It’s feels like such a treat to go shopping again.

‘I have missed it so much. I was so excited this morning.’   

Brett Mendoza

The garden of the Caxton Arms in Brighton, which 'does not have enough air flow'

Brett Mendoza, who runs the Caxton Arms in Brighton, installed a new roof, heaters and furniture and received 700 bookings ahead of his grand reopening – only to be told with 48 hours’ notice that his safety measures weren’t enough. However, the publican later came to an agreement with officials and will be allowed to open the outside space with a downsized capacity 

The Oak Inn in Coventry is being investigated by the local council after a queue of more than 100 people gathered outside to enjoy drinks in its large outdoor garden on the stroke of midnight

The Oak Inn in Coventry is being investigated by the local council after a queue of more than 100 people gathered outside to enjoy drinks in its large outdoor garden on the stroke of midnight

Dozens of people were queuing outside Primark in Liverpool even before opening today, with shoppers keen to grab bargains

Dozens of people were queuing outside Primark in Liverpool even before opening today, with shoppers keen to grab bargains

Nothing could stop these punters outside JD Sports, who were seen running to get into the queue outside the branch on Oxford Street

Nothing could stop these punters outside JD Sports, who were seen running to get into the queue outside the branch on Oxford Street 

Shoppers sprinted towards JD Sports in Oxford Street in astonishing scenes this morning amid a sale on trainers - many of which are sold on online

Shoppers sprinted towards JD Sports in Oxford Street in astonishing scenes this morning amid a sale on trainers – many of which are sold on online 

Student Natasha Larkin, 17, queued to spend £15 on gym wear and shorts at Primark in Manchester. She said:

Student Natasha Larkin, 17, queued to spend £15 on gym wear and shorts at Primark in Manchester. She said: ‘It feels great to just walk into a shop and buy something. I have missed it so much. It gives you something to do. It feels a great day’

In Manchester, shoppers brought camping chairs to wait in a queue outside the Arndale Shopping Centre to ensure they were first in line

In Manchester, shoppers brought camping chairs to wait in a queue outside the Arndale Shopping Centre to ensure they were first in line

Customers queue this morning outside Primark in Birmingham city centre on 'the Glorious Twelfth' - when non-essential retail reopens

Customers queue this morning outside Primark in Birmingham city centre on ‘the Glorious Twelfth’ – when non-essential retail reopens 

Drinkers queuing this morning outside the Moon In The Square, a Wetherspoons in Bournemouth town centre

Drinkers queuing this morning outside the Moon In The Square, a Wetherspoons in Bournemouth town centre 

Shoppers queue early to enter the JD Sports store in Newcastle city centre on the day lockdown restrictions ease further across England

Shoppers queue early to enter the JD Sports store in Newcastle city centre on the day lockdown restrictions ease further across England

People out walking at Clayfield Copse in Berkshire this morning, which was one of the areas to be blanketed by snow

People out walking at Clayfield Copse in Berkshire this morning, which was one of the areas to be blanketed by snow 

A cyclist cycles across Wimbledon Common in south-west London this morning amid an unseasonable snow shower

A cyclist cycles across Wimbledon Common in south-west London this morning amid an unseasonable snow shower 

Large crowds queue outside a shop selling clothes and trainers early this morning on Carnaby Street

Large crowds queue outside a shop selling clothes and trainers early this morning on Carnaby Street

Former Pirelli model Christina Estrada who was married to Dr Walid Juffali is styled by Chelsea Celebrity hairdresser Michael Charalmbous and Maria Pretsi

Former Pirelli model Christina Estrada who was married to Dr Walid Juffali is styled by Chelsea Celebrity hairdresser Michael Charalmbous and Maria Pretsi

Happy shoppers were already coming out laden with bags this morning from the Primark at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex

Happy shoppers were already coming out laden with bags this morning from the Primark at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex 

Kelly Boad, owner of Hair & Beauty Gallery in Warwick, gives Sue Butcher a haircut as non-essential businesses reopened at midnight

Kelly Boad, owner of Hair & Beauty Gallery in Warwick, gives Sue Butcher a haircut as non-essential businesses reopened at midnight

Secret spa hair stylist Nas Ganev cuts the hair of Amy Pallister, 27, just after midnight at her home in Balham

Secret spa hair stylist Nas Ganev cuts the hair of Amy Pallister, 27, just after midnight at her home in Balham

Shoppers inside Primark on Oxford Street - the store is particularly popular after lockdowns because it does not do online sales

Shoppers inside Primark on Oxford Street – the store is particularly popular after lockdowns because it does not do online sales 

People run through Thorpe Park today in order to get on the best rides after theme parks were allowed to reopen in England

People run through Thorpe Park today in order to get on the best rides after theme parks were allowed to reopen in England 

A long queue forming for the Nemesis Inferno ride in Thorpe Park near Staines-upon-Thames in Surrey

A long queue forming for the Nemesis Inferno ride in Thorpe Park Chertsey and Staines in Surrey

The Primark Store at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex reopened early this morning and was already bustling with shoppers

The Primark Store at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex reopened early this morning and was already bustling with shoppers 

After three months of full national lockdown, the Government said on Sunday that a further seven people had died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, bringing the UK total to 127,087

After three months of full national lockdown, the Government said on Sunday that a further seven people had died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, bringing the UK total to 127,087

The Government said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 1,730 lab-confirmed cases in the UK. It brings the total to 4,369,775

The Government said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 1,730 lab-confirmed cases in the UK. It brings the total to 4,369,775

Around 61% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to official figures suggesting that more than 32 million people have received a jab. More than 14% have had both doses

Around 61% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to official figures suggesting that more than 32 million people have received a jab. More than 14% have had both doses

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said it was a ‘big day’ for reopening businesses, and that many were ‘excited and desperate’ to welcome customers back.

‘It’s a big day for the country and it’s a big day for all of these businesses reopening their doors today,’ she told Sky News.

‘They are very excited and desperate to welcome their customers back (with) the focus on safety.’

Ms Dickinson said that retailers were now used to preparing to reopen their doors, having experienced the process during previous lockdowns, but added that customers also had a ‘part to play’.

Oh SNOW! Britain is hit by April flurries overnight – and wrap up warm today as it will remain chilly  

Pub-goers will need to wrap up warm today, as chilly temperatures are forecast for the first day of outdoor hospitality reopenings in England.

It comes after Britain was hit with a flurry of April snow, sleet and hail showers overnight. 

The Met Office has said the morning will be bright in the north, while areas in the southern half of the UK are likely to be hit by a rain front moving eastwards throughout the day.

Along with beer gardens and outdoor dining areas, non-essential shops, hairdressers, indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos in England will also be opening for the first time this year.

Following a cold April weekend where many areas experienced a light dusting of snow, temperatures of between 0C (32F) and -2C (28.4F) are expected in the early hours of the morning across Britain.

Heavy rain and hill snow is also forecast for Northern Ireland and west Wales in the morning.

The Met Office has said rain showers will move south-eastwards throughout the day, hitting the Midlands by mid-morning and reaching the south coast by the afternoon and into the evening.

No flood warnings were in place on Sunday night, but the Environment Agency has issued six lower-level alerts for scattered locations in south-west England where flooding is possible.

Meanwhile, people in northern England and Scotland can expect to see a cold but sunny and dry start to the week.

Average midday temperatures range from 6C (42.8F) in the Scottish isles to 12C (53.6F) in Cornwall, with 10C (50F) forecast for London and 7C (44.6F) in Manchester.

A chilly night is due to follow on Tuesday, with freezing temperatures forecast across the UK.

The rest of the week is set to be cold but dry, the Met Office has said.

 

‘Because they’ve been through this process before… they would have been ready the last week or the week before, and are just keen and enthusiastic to welcome us back,’ she said.

‘Members of the public have a part to play in following the signage, the guidance that we get given queueing if we need to… and all of the safety features that are in place. We have a role too.’

One of the first shops to re-open along London’s Oxford Street, traditionally one of the busiest shopping areas in the country, was Primark, which started letting in customers at 7am.

Jessica Palmerston, 35 from Walthamstow, East London who arrived at the popular store soon after it opened for business told MailOnline: ‘I have been waiting for Primark to reopen for the past three months.

‘I hate shopping online, I love going into this shop because it’s a real buzz when you see the latest fashions and people getting excited about clothes.’

She revealed that she had bought an assortment of socks, underwear and tee-shirts for herself and her children.

Ms Palmerston added: ‘Pri-Mani is the best and it’s wonderful to be able to return here. There’s nothing like filling up your basket with lots of treats; we deserve it because we’ve suffered enough.’

Nala Bee, 25 arrived at the store with her friend Ryan C.

She said: ‘We got up at 7am to get here before it gets too busy. I’ve really missed the shops not being open. I hate online shopping. I love going shopping, try things on and have a bit of fun. It’s my therapy, it’s what makes me happy.

‘I’m after socks and jumpers and am going to buy as much as I can because during this lockdown, I’ve managed to save a bit of money.’

Lesley Black, 47 who was accompanied by her daughter Demi, 20 said: ‘Between us we’ve spent about £200 on underwear and pyjamas.

‘It feels wonderful to be back in the shops and we’re going to spend the whole day shopping. Both of us love spending a day at the shops and we’ve really missed it during the lockdown. Luckily, I’ve got some money saved so I now plan to spend it all.’

Sue Donnelly, 67, a property manager from Northampton, spent £500 on bedding and clothes and carried out seven huge bulging bags from the flagship Primark store on Oxford Street, central London. She estimates it would have cost around £2,000 if it was not for the discounted prices. 

‘I own a lot of properties that I wanted to get bedding for and I reckon I saved around 70 per cent with the discounts. ‘I spent about £500 – it would have normally cost £2,000. 

She said: ‘I was here at 7am when it opened because you know that if I had turned up in the afternoon then all of this would have been gone. ‘You can’t shop Primark online so today was the best day to do it. 

Nicki Butler, 26 from Tottenham, North London who had just purchased some jogging bottoms and a blouse said: ‘Money has been a bit tight, so it’s been hard to afford the delivery charges, which is why I haven’t done much online shopping.

‘Nothing beats walking into a shop, looking around and trying on clothes. I’ve really missed getting my retail therapy.’

John Ferguson, 33 who had just purchased two pairs of socks and some underpants said: ‘I work as a security guard in the West End and had just finished a night shift so thought I’d pop in early before it gets too busy.

‘It’s good for the economy that shops have reopened but we just have to make sure everything is Covid secure because I don’t want to see the country in another lockdown. Today feels really great because it’s a sign that life is slowly returning to normal.’ 

More than 100 shoppers queued outside the world's biggest Primark in Birmingham this morning as non-essential shops opened for the first time in months.

More than 100 shoppers queued outside the world’s biggest Primark in Birmingham this morning as non-essential shops opened for the first time in months. 

A large queue forms outside the Nike Town shop on London's Oxford Street this morning as shoppers rushed to make the most of restrictions easing

A large queue forms outside the Nike Town shop on London’s Oxford Street this morning as shoppers rushed to make the most of restrictions easing 

Today is expected to mark the start of a major boost for the high street, with millions flocking to shops to spend their lockdown savings

Today is expected to mark the start of a major boost for the high street, with millions flocking to shops to spend their lockdown savings 

A woman inside a shop on Oxford Street, where many retailers opened their doors early to capitalise on the early rush

A woman inside a shop on Oxford Street, where many retailers opened their doors early to capitalise on the early rush 

Crowds of shoppers inside an Oxford Street shop this morning on the first day of a splurge of spending that will boost the economy

Crowds of shoppers inside an Oxford Street shop this morning on the first day of a splurge of spending that will boost the economy 

A long line of shoppers waiting outside Manchester's Arndale Centre, where police were later called to control crowds

A long line of shoppers waiting outside Manchester’s Arndale Centre, where police were later called to control crowds  

Today marks the start of Step Two of the government's roadmap out of lockdown. It follows months of closure for large parts of the hospitality sector as people were urged to stay at home

Today marks the start of Step Two of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. It follows months of closure for large parts of the hospitality sector as people were urged to stay at home

People get their hair cut at the Unique Traditional barber's in Whitley Bay, as England takes another step back towards normality

People get their hair cut at the Unique Traditional barber’s in Whitley Bay, as England takes another step back towards normality

A worker of The Fox on the Hill pub in London pours drinks after its reopening. Pints can still only be served outside

A worker of The Fox on the Hill pub in London pours drinks after its reopening. Pints can still only be served outside 

There will still be restrictions on social contact - indoor shops can only be visited with members of one household, while the rule of six applies outdoors, including for pubs

There will still be restrictions on social contact – indoor shops can only be visited with members of one household, while the rule of six applies outdoors, including for pubs 

Shanti Bhardwaj, who was with her two children said that they had decided to come to the West End to enjoy some shopping after spending ‘months locked up.’

She said: ‘I know online shopping is very popular but there’s nothing like having a day out at the shops.

Hitting the shops! FIGHTS break out as shoppers rush to JD Sports and Foot Locker to get hold of limited-edition Nike trainers 

Desperate shoppers were seen fighting to join queues for limited edition trainers and bargain clothes in popular stores as they were allowed to open for the first time this year.

Extraordinary scenes played out outside JD Sports in Oxford Street, London, as trainers enthusiasts ran to get to the end of the line to try and get inside earlier.

Youths and adults jostled with each other to get their places ahead of the doors being flung open at 9am in an effort to get their hands on rare Air Jordan 1s or Nike Dunks.

Police were also called to deal with a scrum of shoppers queuing outside Manchester Arndale shopping centre this morning as non-essential retailers reopened.

Officers had to help security in calming the crowd as they waited outside the main Market Street entrance as cried of ‘Why are you pushing?’ and ‘Move back’ rang out as social distancing measures were ignored.

And in Birmingham, West Mids, the world’s biggest Primark in the city’s High Street saw at least a hundred people queue up to grab bargains.

Keen shoppers arrived well in advance of this morning’s special 7am reopening time at the huge store.

The retail giant has extended opening hours for the first initial week in an effort to recoup profits lost over the pandemic.

Footfall analysts Springboard are expecting a near 50% uplift during the first week. 

‘The kids are on their Easter holidays, so we thought we’d have a day out in Central London shopping and doing other nice things. It feels as if we’ve been let out of prison and it’s wonderful to be able to start doing normal things again.’

She added: ‘We plan to get some lunch a bit later and will hopefully find a nice place where we can sit outdoors.’ 

Cleaner Georgina Okie, 48, queued for 45 minutes to be one of the first to shop in Primark in Manchester city centre.

She said: ‘I am so happy the shops are open. It feels like the first step back to normality. I was desperate to come and shop and buy some jeans. I felt really safe.’ 

Student Natasha Larkin, 17, queued to spend £15 on gym wear and shorts at Primark. 

he said: ‘It feels great to just walk into a shop and buy something. I have missed it so much. It gives you something to do. It feels a great day ‘. 

At specialist hair and beauty salon Strand & Lock in the Custard Factory in the heart of Birmingham’s creative quarter in Digbeth, staff welcomed their first customer in months.

 Amy Smith – who had not been to a stylist since before the original lockdown last year – said she was ‘thrilled’ to be back at a salon and said bookings were ‘absolutely full to the rafters’. 

‘It’s great to be here, I’ve been going with this weird little top knot for a few months now,’ she said.

‘I’m going to a go to a beer garden experience later, so it’s going to be good.’ 

It came as Boris Johnson declared today ‘a major step towards freedom’ but warned people to behave carefully. 

‘I’m sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it’s a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed,’ he said. 

‘I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme.’ 

Beauty therapists wasted little time ushering in the easing of lockdown restrictions across England as long-awaited hair and beauty treatments began when the clock struck twelve.

Today marks the first time salons and hairdressers are able to treat customers since the third national lockdown was legally imposed in England on January 6.

Pub gardens and restaurants are now also allowed to welcome customers, along with indoor gyms, swimming pools and shops deemed non-essential.

One of the beauty companies delivering midnight services was Secret Spa, which offers at-home salon and spa treatments at home across London, Manchester and Brighton.

Despite sub-zero temperatures, keen shoppers arrived well in advance of Monday's 7am reopening time at Birmingham's huge Primark

Despite sub-zero temperatures, keen shoppers arrived well in advance of Monday’s 7am reopening time at Birmingham’s huge Primark 

The retail giant, which has extended opening hours for the first initial week, was the first fashion store to open today in Birmingham city centre

The retail giant, which has extended opening hours for the first initial week, was the first fashion store to open today in Birmingham city centre

A further 100 people have since headed inside with the hope of beating the rush. All non-essential retail has been allowed to reopen today as part of the latest easing of the Covid-19 lockdown

A further 100 people have since headed inside with the hope of beating the rush. All non-essential retail has been allowed to reopen today as part of the latest easing of the Covid-19 lockdown

Debenhams, H&M and IKEA are just some of the stores that will be reopening once again in the heart of Birmingham (Pictured: Primark)

Debenhams, H&M and IKEA are just some of the stores that will be reopening once again in the heart of Birmingham (Pictured: Primark) 

Walkers stroll through Wimbledon Common in south-west London this morning in unusual wintery scenes for the time of the year

Walkers stroll through Wimbledon Common in south-west London this morning in unusual wintery scenes for the time of the year 

Wimbledon (pictured) was not the only part of the country to see snow, with several areas experiencing flurries overnight and this morning

Wimbledon (pictured) was not the only part of the country to see snow, with several areas experiencing flurries overnight and this morning  

A car makes its way through a snowy street in Wimbledon, as elsewhere shoppers rushed to high streets and retail parks

A car makes its way through a snowy street in Wimbledon, as elsewhere shoppers rushed to high streets and retail parks 

A walker holds up an umbrella against the flurries at Clayfield Copse in Berkshire, in an unusual scene given we are already into spring

A walker holds up an umbrella against the flurries at Clayfield Copse in Berkshire, in an unusual scene given we are already into spring 

There were heavy snowfalls in Berkshire (pictured) this morning and flurries across many parts of the country last night

There were heavy snowfalls in Berkshire (pictured) this morning and flurries across many parts of the country last night 

‘It’s a big day’: Retail sector welcomes reopening as pub bosses warn boozers are ‘hanging on by their fingertips’

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said today was a ‘big day’ for reopening businesses, and that many were ‘excited and desperate’ to welcome customers back.

‘It’s a big day for the country and it’s a big day for all of these businesses reopening their doors today,’ she told Sky News. ‘They are very excited and desperate to welcome their customers back (with) the focus on safety.’

Ms Dickinson said that retailers were now used to preparing to reopen their doors, having experienced the process during previous lockdowns, but added that customers also had a ‘part to play’.

‘Because they’ve been through this process before… they would have been ready the last week or the week before, and are just keen and enthusiastic to welcome us back,’ she said.

‘Members of the public have a part to play in following the signage, the guidance that we get given queueing if we need to… and all of the safety features that are in place. We have a role too.’  

Julian Metcalfe, CEO of Itsu restaurants, said returning to retail was ‘scary’ but there was no reason the industry could not come back with ‘strength and positivity’.

‘We take it incredibly seriously and we’re now in a good position to offer a safe environment,’ he told the Today programme. Of course, everyone is a bit nervous, it’s scary.

‘(But) there’s a lot to be grateful for, the vaccination programme in our country is little short of remarkable. There’s no reason we can’t come back with real strength and positivity.’

Asked if he expected as many customers as before the pandemic, he said: ‘I hope more as we get our confidence back. We have to rebuild our confidence and our energies, now more than ever before.’

Mr Metcalfe said he did not think the Government road map to ease restrictions should be sped up or changed.

‘It’s slow but it’s purposeful and that’s what everyone desperately needs, and what we need is clarity,’ he told the Today programme.

‘I don’t think they should change it now, I think we should stick to it. We all have a role to play but I don’t think they should suddenly change the rules for the hundredth time.’

He added: ‘Human beings love being together, but we’ll be OK, we’ll thrive as long as we do our jobs beautifully.’

Sacha Berendji, operations and property director of Marks & Spencer, said stores were ‘safe and secure’, and that he was ‘very confident’ customers would be able to return comfortably.

Speaking on the Today programme, he said: ‘The pandemic is definitely not over and we do need to make sure we come out of this in a safe and responsible way.

‘I’m very confident that … people will be able to come in and enjoy a great and hopefully inspiring shopping experience with us. It won’t be the same but I don’t think anyone would expect it to be.’

Meanwhile, Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer & Pub Association, said some pubs were ‘hanging on by their fingertips’ and needed Government support to encourage costumers back.

‘It’s a first small step in a very long journey to recovery,’ she said, speaking on Sky News.

‘The pandemic has been a really devastating time for all those in the beer and the pubs sector (and) … we won’t be able to enter any sort of profit until all restrictions are lifted.’ 

At the stroke of midnight, co-owner Emily Ewart-Perks, alongside hair stylist Nas Ganev and tan artist Magdelaine Gibson, visited a home in Balham, south London to offer their long-awaited services to clients Amy Pallister and Isabella Robinson.

‘It’s so amazing. It’s just been such a long time coming,’ Ms Ewart-Perks said.

‘I know that our therapists are just so happy to be working with clients again.

‘Everyone has really missed the social contact of the day-to-day job and making clients happy. We haven’t been able to do that for the best part of five-to-six months.’

For Ms Ewart-Perks, the reopening announcement was initially met with a measure of apprehension.

She said: ‘When Boris (Johnson) made the announcement that close contact beauty therapy could go ahead, I think a lot of people had been waiting for the news, just to be 100% sure, because the last reopening from lockdown we were given dates and then the dates were delayed.

‘It was kind of staggered. 

‘It was hair first, then treatments to the body, and we had to wait ages for treatments to the face. So we had to do a lot of cancelling and moving appointments on that lockdown reopening. 

‘So I think people were very nervous (this time around), and when it was confirmed we just saw a surge of bookings.’ 

It was that surge in demand which prompted Ms Ewart-Perks to offer midnight services.

‘We realised we had quite a few regular clients who we weren’t able to book in on the first day back, so we thought ‘why don’t we open the first moment we can?’

‘And then we’re filling a lot of people in at dawn – a lot of 6am haircuts. Which is amazing, because people are going to have their hair cut and blowdried and then they can get on a Zoom call.

‘The first day back is going to be double our best-ever day to date. I can’t believe we’re here.’

Ms Pallister, who received the first hair cut of the day, said the return of beauty services could not have come sooner.

‘(The haircut) feels amazing, I can’t stop touching it,’ she said. ‘(It’s been) about seven or eight months, since my last one, so I had some very split ends. I’m very impatient, so I didn’t want to wait. (I booked it) as soon as they could fit me in.’

With her hair now in order, Ms Pallister said her personal celebration of lockdown easing has only just begun.

She said: ‘A bit of self-care and pampering definitely makes you feel better, so I’m really looking forward to getting back into the pub gardens and feeling a bit more like myself, rather than being cooped up indoors.

‘I’ve got an excuse to get my nails done and put my makeup on and just enjoy life a bit more now. I’m also hoping my new haircut will get me a date. I’ve been single for a long time now, so I reckon it’ll help.’ 

Britons today poked fun at their eagerness to grab a drink despite the cold, with one posting a meme of a snowman sitting in a beer garden

Britons today poked fun at their eagerness to grab a drink despite the cold, with one posting a meme of a snowman sitting in a beer garden

Excited Britons shared amusing memes about today's reopening, with some more keen to go out and make the most of it than others

Excited Britons shared amusing memes about today’s reopening, with some more keen to go out and make the most of it than others 

Next strikes deal with Homebase to open GARDEN CENTRES in its stores  

 In other retail news, Next has struck a deal with Homebase which will open mini-garden centres in six of the fashion giant’s stores.

Shoppers will be able to pick up shrubs with their shirts as part of the trial by the two retail brands.

From today , Homebase garden centres will open in Next stores in Shoreham, Ipswich, Warrington, Camberley, Bristol and Sheffield.

Homebase said it will offer customers a variety of plants, pots and garden tools alongside Next’s traditional home and clothing lines.

It said staff members in stores will also offer expert gardening advice through the venture, called Garden by Homebase at Next.

Damian McGloughlin, chief executive officer at Homebase, said: ‘We’re delighted to be joining forces with Next and bringing our garden products and expertise to its stores.

‘It’s all part of our wider commitment to make shopping with us easier and provide even more inspiration and expert advice.

‘We’re a great nation of gardeners, with more and more people enjoying the benefits of gardening and being outside.

‘The launch of these new garden centres means we’re able to offer more gardeners, both experienced and those just starting out, Homebase products in more locations across the country.’  

Marika Smith, general manager of Hough End Leisure Centre, Withington, Manchester, says she ‘has not slept the last two nights’ in anticipation of reopening.

The centre joined thousands of gyms and indoor exercise spaces opening on Monday as the country enters step two of England’s road map out of lockdown.

It is the third time the leisure centre has reopened after being closed due to Government restrictions, but staff feel confident they can stay open safely and consistently.

Ms Smith said: ‘To keep people safe, we took best practice from our previous restarts, this is the third reopening for ourselves, so such things as one-way systems, cleaning stations, cleaning regimes, cashless, bookings only by the app, so only pre-booked sessions allowed.

‘All of the swimming is fully booked, you can’t get on any, and the same for the busy parts of this evening, 6-7 o’clock, is fully booked.

‘We have had quite a big uptake of new people coming to the centre, which I think could be down to people realising that they have spent a lot of time at home and just wanting to get out and about and doing something.

‘Its also great for mental health as well, it is hugely important for gyms to be open because not only does it have great physical benefits, it helps people’s mental health as well.’

John Martin, owner of the Dough & Brew restaurant in Warwick, said he was looking forward to opening their outdoor covered terrace on Monday.

He said: ‘Obviously it’s great to be taking another step closer to some kind of normality and it will be great to have customers with us in our covered outdoor area.

‘The past year has been incredibly hard, having to adjust to constant changes and uncertainty, trying to come up with new ideas and still provide the great food and service that we’re known for.

‘We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone back and just hope that there will be some patience for us as we adjust to an influx of people after a long period of only running a takeaway service, as well as all the new rules.’  

Attendees pump iron as they exercise this morning at the Ultimate Fitness Gym in Wallsend, North Tyneside

Attendees pump iron as they exercise this morning at the Ultimate Fitness Gym in Wallsend, North Tyneside 

Queues outside Primark in Bristol this morning as shops reopen after lockdown, with the high street set for a spending boost

Queues outside Primark in Bristol this morning as shops reopen after lockdown, with the high street set for a spending boost 

Queues formed around the block outside the Primark in Bristol. Pubs and restaurants allowed to serve customers outdoors from today

Queues formed around the block outside the Primark in Bristol. Pubs and restaurants allowed to serve customers outdoors from today 

Shoppers queue early to enter the Primark store in Newcastle city centre on the day lockdown restrictions ease further across England

Shoppers queue early to enter the Primark store in Newcastle city centre on the day lockdown restrictions ease further across England

For many venues today will be the first revenue since England’s January 5 lockdown. The unpredictable weather remained the number one worry. 

There is also confusion among landlords who have been told their outdoor seating does not qualify as outdoors according to government guidance.

Shelters and temporary structures must have half the walls open at all times to count as outdoors.

But local councils are interpreting the rules differently leaving some landlords and restaurant owners in the lurch on the eve of their supposed reopening. 

One landlord has been told his walled garden pub cannot reopen despite having taken more than 1,000 bookings.

Another publican in Brighton told The Telegraph he was ‘devastated’ that his pub could not reopen even though it has a substantial outdoor space. 

But other landlords are excited for the influx of customers despite reservations about the weather.   

Revellers sitting outside the Oak Inn on Gosford Street in Coventry city centre after it opened at one minute past midnight

Revellers sitting outside the Oak Inn on Gosford Street in Coventry city centre after it opened at one minute past midnight

The dedicated patrons of The Oak Inn in Coventry enjoy their first post-lockdown pints moments after midnight despite the freezing temperatures

The dedicated patrons of The Oak Inn in Coventry enjoy their first post-lockdown pints moments after midnight despite the freezing temperatures 

Eager patrons queued outside The Oak Inn in Coventry at midnight on Sunday as Covid restrictions were partially eased, allowing for beer gardens to open

Eager patrons queued outside The Oak Inn in Coventry at midnight on Sunday as Covid restrictions were partially eased, allowing for beer gardens to open

A group of eager drinkers enjoy a pint at the Kentish Belle in Bexley Heath at a minute past midnight as the Covid restrictions were eased

A group of eager drinkers enjoy a pint at the Kentish Belle in Bexley Heath at a minute past midnight as the Covid restrictions were eased

A group of six friends made the most of the new rules by flocking straight to the Oak Inn in Coventry for a long-awaited drink

A group of six friends made the most of the new rules by flocking straight to the Oak Inn in Coventry for a long-awaited drink

The Coventry establishment is licensed until 6am, and also plans to sell food throughout the night, such as pizzas, burgers and kebabs

The Coventry establishment is licensed until 6am, and also plans to sell food throughout the night, such as pizzas, burgers and kebabs

The midnight drinks were a long time coming for punters who have been forced to stay away from pubs, bars and restaurants for months

The midnight drinks were a long time coming for punters who have been forced to stay away from pubs, bars and restaurants for months

While many pubs will have to remain shut because they cannot offer outdoor space, others had a headstart by opening their doors at midnight

While many pubs will have to remain shut because they cannot offer outdoor space, others had a headstart by opening their doors at midnight

The dedicated patrons of The Oak Inn in Coventry enjoy their first post-lockdown pints just minutes after midnight

The dedicated patrons of The Oak Inn in Coventry enjoy their first post-lockdown pints just minutes after midnight

Many pubs are fully booked this week as people relish the opportunity to have a drink at an establishment for the first time in months

Many pubs are fully booked this week as people relish the opportunity to have a drink at an establishment for the first time in months

Secret Spa tan artist Magdelaine Gibson prepares client Isabella Robinson, 27, before giving her a spray tan

Secret Spa tan artist Magdelaine Gibson prepares client Isabella Robinson, 27, before giving her a spray tan

Five housemates desperate for a trim and tan booked Secret Spa stylist Nas Ganev and tan artist Magdelaine Gibson to visit their home at one minute past midnight

Five housemates desperate for a trim and tan booked Secret Spa stylist Nas Ganev and tan artist Magdelaine Gibson to visit their home at one minute past midnight

A barman is seen pulling a pint at a pub as they prepare to open their gardens after months of restrictions

A barman is seen pulling a pint at a pub as they prepare to open their gardens after months of restrictions

Henry Cripps, from the Three Oaks pub in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, said: ‘We realise that almost everything for the next five weeks is weather dependent so we have everything crossed for sun. We couldn’t wait to see our regulars, so we have invested heavily in our garden.’

Some restrictions have eased since pubs were last open. Customers will not need to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and there will be no 10pm curfew. But Boris Johnson has postponed his planned celebratory pint because of Prince Philip’s death on Friday.

However, a green group has warned the rush to drink and dine outdoors will cause a spike in air pollution from gas burning patio heaters. Oliver Lord, of Environmental Defence Fund Europe, said: ‘We need to support the hospitality sector to bounce back safely and use electric heaters, which are far cleaner and more efficient.’

Hairdressers are also booked up for weeks. Joanna Hansford, 46, who runs a high-end salon in Mayfair with her mother Jo, has 2,000 clients booked in for April and was opening at 5am this morning.  

She said: ‘We’re very excited, it’s been a long lockdown and it has been a lot tougher.’ 

It came as Dr Mike Tildesley, reader in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick and member of the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), warned that any form of reopening ‘could lead to higher risk’.

Asked what the effect of reopening may have on infection rates, he told Times Radio: ‘It’s hard to tell categorically but I think we do need to remember that with any form of reopening there’s going to be more mixing, and so we might expect that that could lead to higher risk.

‘We might expect it could have a resurgence, it’s really, really important therefore that people follow the rules that are in place, with this relaxation.

‘It is great news that people can get out and go to non-essential shops, and go to pubs and restaurants and so forth, but, as I say, follow the guidelines that is still in place.’ 

Despite it being a Sunday night, many people across the country headed straight to the pub the minute they reopened

Despite it being a Sunday night, many people across the country headed straight to the pub the minute they reopened

The drinks were flowing at the establishments which opened up for the first time in months at midnight on Monday morning

The drinks were flowing at the establishments which opened up for the first time in months at midnight on Monday morning

It is expected to be a bumper week for the pub industry after months of closures as people make the most of their new freedoms

It is expected to be a bumper week for the pub industry after months of closures as people make the most of their new freedoms

 

 

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