Brits have flocked to pubs in England for the first time in three months after they reopened from 6am.
Bars, restaurants, cafes and salons are all welcoming back customers, in what Boris Johnson has hailed “the biggest step yet on the road to recovery”, dubbed “Super Saturday”.
But Matt Hancock warned revellers they “could end up behind bars” if trouble flares, with police chiefs and hospital bosses bracing for a New Year’s Eve-style operation.
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Alton Towers is back!
Following more than three months shuttered, Alton Towers has thrown open its gates to thrill-seekers today.
Staff are taking temperature checks and asking visitors to wear face coverings – but that did not dissuade eager riders from hopping on rollercoasters.
Here are a few pictures taken from the Stoke-on-Trent theme park this morning.
An actual sit-in cafe?
Coffee-lovers have had to make do with takeaways for more than three months, but from today they can finally lounge in a coffee shop.
In Clapham, Londoners are braving the wet forecast to make the most of their new freedom, sitting at outdoor tables in coffee houses.
Queues form outside barbers
Brits have clearly been longing or a haircut, with overgrown mops lining streets outside reopened barbers this morning.
Here are some pictures shot at barbers in Clapham, London, and Kent:
Bars and barbers are filling up
Life in England – except Leicester, which is in local lockdown – is starting to resemble normality as pubs and hair salons welcome back customers this morning.
But strict social distancing and hygiene measures are in force, with Boris Johnson and his medical chiefs warning the pandemic is far from over.
Welsh told to resist urge to visit England pubs
People in Wales must continue to follow the five-mile advice and stay local this weekend as pubs open over the border in England, the first minister has said.
Mark Drakeford said that while those living very close to England may be able to visit pubs that are open, it would not be possible for the majority of people in Wales.
Police forces have also urged Welsh residents to heed the “stay local” advice while Transport for Wales said public transport should only be used for “essential travel”.
“I certainly do say to people who are thinking of going across the border that the five-mile advice, the stay local regulations, remain in place in Wales this weekend,” Mr Drakeford said.
Rishi Sunak welcomes pub return
Chancellor Rishi Sunak welcomed the reopening of pubs this morning, as he fights to get the troubled economy back on track.
He said: “The hospitality sector is a vital part of our economy and crucial to people’s livelihoods – Britain’s pubs and bars alone employ almost half a million people – which is why it’s such good news that so many people are able to return to work this weekend, helping us all to enjoy summer safely.”
On Friday the British Beer and Pub Association warned 18,000 pubs – 40 per cent – could close by the end of the year if “reasonable” trade does not resume urgently.
Drinkers in England were having their first taste of post-lockdown life this morning as some pubs opened their doors the first time in three months.
Among the first pints poured in the country were at a handful of J.D Wetherspoon pubs, including the Moon Under Water in Colindale, north London.
First orders! Brits enjoy early morning pints
It may not even be 10am, but Brits are already enjoying long-missed pints as England’s pubs reopen.
Customer Peter Kutapan was snapped enjoying a beer at the Shakespeares Head pub in Holborn, London, just after 9am.
Andrew Slawinaki, 51, was reading his paper while having a pint of Guinness at the reopening The Toll Gate, a Wetherspoons pub in Hornsey, north London.
He said the drink was “gorgeous”, adding: “It’s like winning the [Premier] League”.
A range of measures have been implemented at the pub including contact tracing forms, Perspex screens and compulsory table service.
But it was Michael Robinson, 61, who christened The Toll Gate with its first poured pint in over three months…
Youths ‘overdoing it’ as lockdown eased, says police leader
Easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England will lead to some “decompression” and “overdoing it” by a minority of young people, a police leader has said.
As Brits flock to reopened pubs this morning, Marc Jones, Lincolnshire’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I think there will always be some over-doing going on and I don’t think tonight will be any different from any other Saturday night, sadly, in that regard.
I do think there is an element of decompression going on, particularly with younger people who have had some very responsible parents keeping them in over recent weeks.
We are seeing some gatherings that police are having to deal with in parks and open spaces, and I think those kind of things are going to last for a few days and then we should start to get back to normal.
It follows more clashes between police and revellers in the capital last night as riot squads tried to break up an illegal music event in White City, west London, leaving seven officers injured.
Hair salons customers crave normality
One of the first people in the country to visit a newly-reopened hair salon said it was nice to feel “like normal” again.
Sandra Jacobs was among the first people through the door at Tusk Hair in Camden on Friday night when the north London business opened its doors at midnight.
There were masks, aprons and face-shields aplenty at the salon, but Ms Jacobs described the trip as “such a relief, I can’t tell you”.
She added: “My hair was everywhere. I’d been wearing hats to hide it.”
People eager for a trim have formed queues outside salons already this morning – with others flocking to hairdressers at midnight.
Couples tie the knot at midnight
Some couples have wasted no time before saying their vows after midnight, with ceremonies allowed to resume with a maximum of 30 people from today.
Care home worker Jennifer Wilson and security guard Louise Arnold, both 22, married at the Peace Garden Pergola in the grounds of Runcorn Town Hall, Cheshire, in what was thought to be the first wedding as the lockdown was eased again.
Ms Wilson said: “Last week the registry office rang and asked if we wanted to be the first couple in the UK to marry after lockdown, and we just said yes.
“We both work nights normally, so the time suited us.”
Ms Arnold, who works for lorry firm Eddie Stobart, added: “With it having just been Pride month, this felt like something we couldn’t really pass up. Not just for us but for other LGBT people who haven’t been able to get together to celebrate Pride.”
Wetherspoons reopens for first time since March
While pubs were allowed to reopen from 6am, Wetherspoons branches have only just begun to welcome back punters – from 8am.
Staff have been pictured unlocking the doors at the chain’s 750 sites, which are expected to fill up with thirsty punters.
Spoons’ website lists a series of hygiene and social distancing measures in place, including:
– Hand-sanitising on arrival
– Avoiding meeting in large groups
– Furniture redesigned to encourage social distancing
– Signage around pubs, including one-way systems
– Front doors being kept open for ventilation
– PPE for staff and enhanced cleaning regimes.
The firm is asking all customers to order using the popular Wetherspoons app, to avoid unnecessary closeness to employees at bars.
Brits flock to reopened hairdressers at midnight
Many of us can relate to the hair growing out of control during lockdown – and longing for a trim.
Some barbers across England threw open their doors at the stroke of midnight to give the people what they sought.
Queues have also formed outside barber shops as dawn broke.
This Saturday is the first time in over three months that people in England will be able to drink a pint in a pub or order a meal inside a restaurant.
Mr Johnson cut the social distancing two-metre rule to “one metre plus” – so people can be just a metre apart if they take other mitigating measures, like sitting side by side or wearing a mask.
But what exactly is opening today? Read more here…
Good morning and welcome to the Evening Standard’s live blog on what has been dubbed “Super Saturday”.