Evening Standard Comment: Cheers! Let’s raise a glass to reopening

Evening Standard Comment
·1-min read
 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

Today is a momentous day on the path to normality. Shops, hairdressers and gyms are reopening. Care home visitors will rise to two per resident. And, of course, restaurants and pubs can serve food and alcohol outdoors.

Indeed, the great challenge of the day may be to get a trim before your hairdresser nips off to the local beer garden. Figures from the Centre for Retail Research suggest that 1.7 million shoppers will hit the capital’s stores on the first day of trading, spending £94 million on gloriously non-essential items.

The usual caveats apply. These newly regained freedoms were desperately hard-fought and Londoners must continue to take precautions, from self-isolating if feeling unwell to wearing masks indoors.

It will also continue to be a challenging environment for retailers. With tourism still shut down and UK residents outside of London much less likely to travel in, the capital’s shops and restaurants will continue to operate at below pre-pandemic levels.

But today is a day for cautious celebration. We have witnessed more encouraging vaccination statistics over the weekend — a record 475,230 second doses were administered on Saturday, in addition to 111,109 first jabs. And with the one-dose Janssen vaccine potentially days away from being approved by regulators, optimism for the future is not misplaced.

London’s climate is not exactly designed for outdoor April dining. But Londoners will make do, as they have throughout the long, cold winter. And the forecast suggests the rain clouds will clear in time for the first post-work pints in many months tonight.

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