Pints and Primark: Britons mark lockdown easing with a sup and a shop
Britons on Monday 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.
Some pubs wasted no time and opened on the stroke of midnight. Others opened later, but still much earlier than normal, and just in time for breakfast.
"I work the night shifts in the hospital," said Richard Newman, a 32-year-old doctor at the Royal London Hospital, as he waited with friends outside the Half Moon pub in east London at 9:00 am (0800 GMT).
"Hopefully, it's the end of lockdown but who knows? What does it represent? Hopefully a nice summer. It should be fun, bringing back a bit of life to London."
Queues for shopping
On London's Oxford Street, some shoppers braved chilly temperatures to start queueing at 5.30 am, two hours before the first non-essential shops such as fast-fashion chain Primark opened.
High demand for long overdue trims
Also able to reopen are barbers and hairdressers, where demand is high for long overdue trims more than three months after the latest stay-at-home order was imposed.
Some salons opened at midnight and other clients paid for home spray tans and haircuts.
Swimmers enjoy indoor pools
At Clissold Leisure Centre, in Stoke Newington, north London, a team of synchronised swimmers took the plunge together for the first time as indoor swimming pools reopened alongside gyms, libraries and zoos.
Self-catering bookings soar
Self-catering domestic holidays are also allowed and bookings have soared.
Major step forward
The prime minister called the easing of restrictions "a major step forward in our roadmap to freedom" while urging British people to "continue to behave responsibly".
"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."
Johnson had promised to toast the latest easing with a celebratory pint at a pub beer garden, a year to the day since he left hospital after contracting Covid-19.
The emphasis is still on outdoor activities to prevent spread of the virus through close contact indoors.
But Johnson has put his plans on hold since the country went into mourning after the death of head of state Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip, aged 99.