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People in England enjoyed beer garden drinks and beauty treatments just after midnight as the country’s coronavirus restrictions were eased on Monday.
Customers made the most of the easing of the COVID-19 lockdown by having beauty treatments in their homes and sitting outdoors at pubs from 12.01am, in some cases braving snowy conditions.
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.
Punters at the Showtime Bar in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, sat outside as the snow fell, while the Oak Inn in Coventry, West Midlands, also opened its outside seating at midnight.
Hundreds of people queued outside Primark in Birmingham as non-essential shops reopened across the country.
Mobile beauty salon business Secret Spa, which offers at-home salon treatments in London, Manchester and Brighton, started visiting customers from midnight.
The Met Office said temperatures were between 0C and -2C across the UK on Monday morning, as some places experienced a light dusting of snow.
Hundreds of people queued outside Primark in Birmingham on Monday morning, and there were also long lines at its store in Nottingham.
In central London, hundreds of people also queued to get into the NikeTown shop at Oxford Circus.
There was also a long queue outside JD Sports in Oxford Street in London.
Watch: Hundreds queue for Primark as lockdown eases
Beauty treatments were popular across England as soon as midnight struck.
Secret Spa, which offers at-home salon treatments across London, Manchester and Brighton, started its services from 12.01am.
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.”
A surge in demand prompted 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?’”
In Birmingham, beauty salon Strand & Lock in the Custard Factory in Digbeth welcomed its 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.
She added: “I’m going to a go to a beer garden experience later, so it’s going to be good.”
Strand & Lock co-owner Danny Law said it was “absolutely full to the rafters” with customers all this week, and that it felt like it was the “third launch” for the business – which was only set up in November 2019 – because of repeatedly having to lock down.
Pubs around the country opened their beer gardens from midnight to allow customers to have a drink outside at their establishments for the first time in months.
The Oak Inn in Coventry had an inflatable covering to keep customers away from the elements as dozens of punters sat outside in the early hours, while hundreds queued to enter.
Customers queuing at the Showtime Bar in Huddersfield had to deal with a light dusting of snow as they waited for a pint.
It is estimated that just two out of five pubs have the space to reopen for outdoor service.
GYMS AND POOLS
Indoor swimming pools across England are also reopening from Monday.
Marika Smith, general manager of Hough End Leisure Centre, Withington, Manchester, says she “has not slept the last two nights” in anticipation of reopening.
She said: “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.”
St Michael's Health Club in Falmouth, Cornwall, opened shortly after 6am on Monday to cater for clients eager to return to indoor fitness.
Boris Johnson advised the nation to “behave responsibly” as caution is urged while social mixing inside is still heavily restricted.
“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,” the prime minister 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.”
Watch: England reopens for business – what rules change?