Queues on high streets and and busy pub gardens as lockdown restrictions in England eased

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

People across England flocked to the high street, hairdressers and pub gardens on Monday as lockdown restrictions were eased.

Monday is the first time, non-essential shops, salons and hairdressers are welcoming customers since the third national lockdown was legally imposed in England in January.

Pub gardens and restaurants are now also allowed to open, along with indoor gyms, swimming pools, libraries and zoos, as England takes another tentative step towards normality.

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After three months, some people could not wait a minute longer, with hairdressers and beauty appointments booked from the stroke of midnight.

People also braved the cold to enjoy a pint for the first time in months at one minute past 12.

Customers enjoy a drink in a pub garden in Birmingham. Credit: PA

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Beauty business Secret Spa was one of the companies delivering midnight services after a surge in demand.

At the stroke of midnight, co-owner Emily Ewart-Perks, hair stylist Nas Ganev and tan artist Magdelaine Gibson, visited clients Amy Pallister and Isabella Robinson at home in Balham, south London.

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

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.

“I’m very impatient, so I didn’t want to wait. (I booked it) as soon as they could fit me in.”

Amy Pallister is among the first people to get a haircut just after midnight as England reopens

Elsewhere, people braved the chilly weather - including snow in some places - to enjoy a freshly-poured pint in a pub garden.

The cold did not put off pub goers in Huddersfield either as punters toasted the end of some lockdown restrictions at midnight.

Harriet was enjoying a pint with friends for the first time since 31 October and said she was not put off by the weather.

"It was snowing earlier, but I was still going to come out. I just put my coat on," she said.

Even snow did not put off Harriet and her friends in Huddersfield celebrating the reopening of pubs

Diners can also eat al fresco on restaurant terraces as outdoor hospitality venues reopen.

Cheers greeted the first pints of the day at Wetherspoon’s Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent.

Pippa Ingram, 51, and Sue Bell, 55, were among a handful of people who braved the chilly seaside air to taste their first “proper” pint in months.

As their order arrived at the table, Ms Ingram celebrated getting a drink “from a proper pub”, adding after a couple of long sips: “Absolutely delicious. It’s not gonna last long at all! That is banging.”

Pub goers in Bexley were also enjoying their first pint in months. "I think it's more about people, and being to relax and be sociable again," one woman who worked in the NHS said.

"We've all missed it."

She said she hoped people would be sensible as "none of us want to go back to what we've been through again".

Pub goers in Bexley toasts the easing of lockdown restrictions

In Birmingham, early-morning shoppers formed a long line outside the city’s Primark clothing store – keen to get their first retail experience for many weeks.

Customers were also seen forming socially-distanced queues in Cardiff city centre.

The general manager of Hough End Leisure Centre in Withington, Manchester, said she had “not slept the last two nights” in anticipation of reopening.

Shoppers queue outside Primark in Birmingham. Credit: PA
Some of the first shoppers leave the Primark store in Oxford Street Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

The general manager of Hough End Leisure Centre in Withington, Manchester, said she had “not slept the last two nights” in anticipation of reopening.

Marika Smith said the swimming pool is “fully booked” and there has been a “big uptake” of new members.

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.

“It’s also great for mental health as well,” said Ms Smith. “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.”

Personal trainer Bella Gordijenko instructs Arthik Francis in the gym at David Lloyd Cambridge Credit: Jeff Spicer/PA
A southern white rhino beside a ‘we are open’ sign at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo/PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the nation to “behave responsibly” as life took another step back towards normality.

Mr Johnson 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.”

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