PUBS and hairdressers reopened at midnight as Britain took another huge step towards lockdown freedom.
Huge queues were seen outside Primark stores across the country as Brits flocked to shops, pubs and gyms as restrictions were eased.
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Brits enjoyed their newfound freedom after four months of lockdown by enjoying pints just after midnight as venues reopened.
Keen punters were seen waiting patiently in line for pubs to open at midnight.
Shaggy-haired Brits also flocked to get their hair cut for the first time in months as salons reopened at midnight.
Pent-up demand will see £1.5billion — that’s £2.7million a minute — spent in venues and reopening attractions between 9am and 6pm.
Work leave requests for today are up almost 20 per cent.
Pictures also showed shoppers queuing outside a Primark stores in Birmingham and West Thurrock, Essex, as the retailer opened its doors at 6am.
It comes as:
- Boris Johnson urged Brits to behave responsibly as pubs reopened
- Brits flocked to get haircuts for the first time in months as salons reopened
- Here is our ultimate guide to lockdown rules as they are eased today
- Brits have been urged to raise a toast to Prince Philip following the Duke's death on Friday
- Boris Johnson had his personal barber visit Downing Street this morning for a fresh trim
The retail giant has reopened 160 shops in England and Wales today, with opening hours extended across almost all stores.
This week, stores will open for two extra hours a day on average – typically an hour earlier and later.
Some bosses will let work-from-home staff pop out for a bargain or beer.
BrightHR, which monitors annual leave at more than 10,000 workplaces, said: “It’s fair to say April 12 is the most requested day off in the last year excluding Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.”
More than a million will visit pubs, with eight million in shops and millions more making day trips.
In the next week, 24 million people — half of England’s adult population — will go drinking or shopping.
Gyms reopened from 6am today, with fitness fanatics pictured attending a strength and conditioning class at Ultimate Fitness Gym in Wallsend, North Tyneside.
The landlords of the Duke of Edinburgh pub have raised a toast to Prince Philip and urged the rest of England to do the same today as the country unlocks.
Boris Johnson urged the nation to "behave responsibly" as pubs reopened after months of lockdown.
"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," 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."
In England, pubs and restaurants have been making changes during lockdown to maximise their ability to serve customers outside.
But the British Beer and Pub Association estimates that just 40 per cent of licensed premises have the space to reopen for outdoor service.
There will be no 10pm curfews and “substantial meal” barriers — but Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to stick to the rules on distancing and handwashing.
Some areas saw snow yesterday, and brewer Marston’s has kitted out some pubs such as The Manor House in Kinver, Staffs, with tepees to keep punters warm. Other pubs will offer hot-water bottles.
Among the first to open was the Kentish Belle in Bexleyheath, South East London, which served from a minute past midnight.
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."
Last time non-essential retailers opened up was after the second lockdown last year.
Stores reopened on December 2, 2020 and many had extended opening hours to make up for lost shopping time and ensure Covid safety.
Many cafes have also reopened from 8am.
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