England braces itself for biggest night out in six months on first Friday with bars open across the country as revellers prepare to down 5million pints and 500,000 bottles of wine
- Pubs across England will open for first Friday night since Covid lockdown measures were eased on Monday
- First time pubs in England will be allowed to open – outdoors – on a Friday since October, due to local rules
- Revellers are expected to knock back a staggering five million pints and 500,000 bottles of wine on Friday
- It comes as Covid numbers continue to shrink in England, with 2,672 recorded cases yesterday and 30 deaths
Revellers across England are today preparing for the biggest night of drinking in six months, as bars prepare to open for the first Friday night since the easing of strict Covid rules.
Lockdown-weary Britons are expected to knock back a staggering five million pints and 500,000 bottles of wine tonight.
The Friday night spending spree is set fill the tills of the depleted hospitality industry to the tune of £100million.
Despite Covid rules still being in place, revellers are expected to hit the towns in their thousands tonight, when pubs open for the first weekend night since lockdown began in January.
Some areas have been forced to wait even longer – six months – due to the previous local tier system.
Friday will be the first weekend night were pubs and bars across England have been allowed to open – albeit only for outdoor drinking – since October last year.
Revellers across England are today preparing for the biggest night of drinking in six months, as bars prepare to open for the first Friday night since the easing of strict Covid rules. Pictured: Revellers in Newcastle enjoyed a Thursday night drink
Lockdown-weary Britons are expected to knock back a staggering five million pints tonight and fill the tills of the depleted hospitality industry to the tune of £100million. Pictured: In Newcastle people gathered on Thursday night for a drink
On what is being dubbed ‘Fab Friday’, revellers are expected to hit the towns in their thousands – despite Covid rules still being in place – when pubs open for the first weekend night since lockdown began in January. Pictured: Pubs and bars were busy in Soho on Thursday night
But revellers will have to wrap-up in more than just a beer jacket when they hit the pubs and bars this weekend, as they’ll have to remain in outdoor areas under current Covid rules.
And with night time temperatures in London set to drop to 5C in the evening, it will be more than just the beer that will be chilled.
Britons have already been busy cramming into streets and outdoor seating areas this week after the Government eased restrictions on the hospitality industry on Monday.
Pubs and bars in England can now open outdoor seating areas to welcome back groups of up to six people, or two households. Indoor seating will not be allowed until at least May 17 under the Government’s current roadmap out of lockdown.
Wales will keep its pubs shut until April 27, much to the frustration of the country’s hospitality chiefs, as will Scotland.
Meanwhile, pubs and cafes can reopen in Northern Ireland for outdoor service on April 30, and indoors from May 24.
In England, thousands of people headed out across the country on Monday night to enjoy a first taste of freedom from lockdown when the bars reopened for the first time since early January.
Revellers were seen packing into the streets around Soho in London, as well as in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.
But police were seen keeping a watchful eye over proceedings in popular drinking hotspots in London earlier this week.
Officers were seen attempting to break-up big crowds as people cheered, sang and raised their drinks to a first night of freedom.
Ahead of this weekend, Kate Nicholls, boss of UKHospitality, told the Sun that Britons were eager for a return to pubs and bars.
She said: ‘Bookings are very strong for the first few weeks of outdoor reopening. People are eager to socialise again.’
According to a study by VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research, people in England are expected to splash out £100million on drinks this weekend.
A further £1.5billion is expected to be spent in shops, which will also welcome back customers for the first weekend of trading since Christmas.
Crowds of shoppers pack Northumberland Street in Newcastle on Wednesday, two days after non-essential stores reopened for the first time in months
Some high street chains are offering bumper discounts, including tech giant Currys, which is offering 70 per cent off, and Superdrug, which is offering 50 per cent off.
It come as Britain last night recorded 12 per cent fewer coronavirus cases than last week and 43 per cent less deaths, as one of the country’s top scientists said the UK was on the cusp of achieving herd immunity.
The Department of Health’s usual daily count showed there were 2,672 Covid diagnoses in the past 24 hours and 30 fatalities, down from 3,030 and 53 a week ago, respectively.
Ministers can be confident with each day that passes and infections continue to fall that England’s loosening of restrictions has not sparked a resurgence of the virus.
The Government reintroduced the rule of six outdoors, allowing family and friends to meet up and enjoy the sunny weather, on March 29 and outdoor pubs, shops, gyms and hairdressers were given the green light on Monday.
Experts said today there was ‘nothing at the moment’ to suggest any of those relaxations will cause an uptick in infections. Professor Tracy Hussell, an immunologist and director of the Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation at Manchester University, told MailOnline: ‘The UK is in a relatively stable position at the moment.’
Health chiefs also revealed 343,783 vaccines were administered on Wednesday, taking the total number of Brits fully vaccinated to more than 8.5million. About 32.5m Brits – more than half the population – have been given at least one dose.
It comes after a top scientist behind the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study claimed today the latest raft of statistics suggested the UK is ‘starting to see herd immunity take effect’.
King’s College London epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector explained this was because more than 60 per cent of the adult population had received at least one dose and up to 10 per cent were protected by previous infection.
Public Health England data today showed the proportion of tests coming back positive has now slumped to new lows, with fewer than one in 500 swabs picking up the disease in parts of the country.
And their weekly surveillance report found Covid infections were still falling in every age group and region in the week ending April 11, suggesting the loosening of curbs ahead of Easter did not cause the nation’s outbreak to spike.
Separate Test and Trace data showed the number of weekly cases in England dropped by 34 per cent in the first week of April, with fewer than 20,000 positive tests recorded.
Professor Tim Spector, a King’s College London epidemiologist who runs the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study, said the epidemic had ‘mainly’ been squashed by the ‘exemplar vaccine programme’.
He said: ‘As the UK slowly exits lockdown, I’m encouraged to see Covid cases continue to fall with our rates among the lowest in Europe.
‘In fact, the UK closely mirrors cases in Israel with its exemplar vaccine programme.
‘Based on our data and countries like Israel, I believe the fall in cases since January is mainly thanks to the vaccination programme and less about the strict lockdown the UK has been under since late December.
‘With up to 60 per cent of the population vaccinated and around 5 to 10 per cent with natural immunity due to infection, we’re starting to see herd immunity take effect. This should prevent future large-scale outbreaks.’
What is happening across the UK with the easing of lockdown rules
What is happening in Scotland?
From Friday, people will be able to leave their local authority area for the purposes of socialising, recreation or exercise, though travel between the mainland and some islands will not be permitted.
Rules on gatherings will also be relaxed, with six adults from up to six households able to meet up outside.
What will happen in the coming months in Scotland?
Lockdown is expected to ease further from April 26, and the First Minister is due to give more detail in the coming weeks.
Under current plans, cafes, restaurants, shops and gyms are due to open, and more people will be allowed to meet up outdoors.
Libraries, museums and galleries, gyms and pools will also be allowed to open.
Hospitality will need to close their doors at 8pm indoors and 10pm outdoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.
Travel will also be allowed on this date to other parts of Britain, with reviews planned on journeys to Northern Ireland and the Republic.
From May 17, pubs are set to open indoors until 10.30pm and contact sports, cinemas, and some small scale events can take place.
Up to four people from two households will also be able to meet up indoors.
Which non-essential sectors are set to reopen in Northern Ireland?
The key relaxation dates are April 23, April 30 and May 24.
Hairdressers can reopen on April 23, pubs and cafes can serve people outdoors from April 30 and indoors from May 24, under the new plans.
Hotels will be able to fully reopen on May 24 as well.
The measures were outlined by First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill to a special Assembly committee on Thursday evening.
The May 24 date is indicative and subject to another Executive review earlier in that month.
The moves became possible after Northern Ireland ‘s Covid-19 vaccination rollout along with other key health and scientific indicators were going in the right direction.
What else has been happening in Northern Ireland?
On Monday, the number of people who could meet outdoors in a garden, including children, increased from six to 10.
The “stay at home” messaging was replaced with a “stay local” and “work from home” message.
Outdoor sports training were allowed for recognised clubs, in groups of up to 15, provided all indoor facilities except toilets remain closed.
The remainder of post-primary students, years eight to 11, returned to schools after all other classes resumed before the Easter break.
Outdoor retail such as car dealerships and garden centres reopened, and click-and-collect services resumed.
People planning weddings were permitted to view potential venues for ceremonies at a limit of up to four people.
The number of people allowed to attend such ceremonies has also increased, at a level informed by a risk assessment for the venue.
What can people in England do now?
Shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens were allowed to reopen on Monday.
Most outdoor attractions, such as zoos and theme parks, can reopen, although wider social-distancing rules still apply to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and swimming pools opened, but for use by people on their own or in household groups.
Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes rose from six to 15.
It follows from a previous round of easing on March 29 allowing six people from any number of households or a group of any size from up to two households to gather in parks and gardens.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts reopened, with organised adult and children’s sport, including grassroots football, able to return.
People are still being asked to work from home where possible, and overseas travel remains banned.
– What happens next in England?
From no earlier than May 17, most social contact rules outside will be lifted although gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.
Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply although the Government has said it will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.
Limited crowds will also be allowed at sporting events.
All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from June 21, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.
The Government has said there will be a minimum of five weeks between each set of restrictions easing, to give it time to assess the impact on public health.
Lockdown easing will depend on the vaccine rollout continuing smoothly and evidence the vaccine is reducing hospital admissions and deaths.
It also depends on there being no evidence a surge in infection rates could potentially overwhelm the NHS, and the level of risk not being fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
What is the picture in Wales?
On Monday, close-contact services such as hairdressers and non-essential shops shops were permitted to open.
It was also back-to-school day for students, with university undergraduates returning to campuses although some online learning will continue.
People can now make trips outside of Wales, but journeys to countries outside of the Common Travel area, the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland, without a reasonable excuse are still banned.
What happens next in Wales?
Outdoor hospitality such as cafes, pubs and restaurants are due to open up on April 26.
Organised outdoor activities for up to 30 people and wedding receptions for up to 30 people will be permitted outdoors from the same date again a week earlier than previously announced.
Last week, the Welsh government announced it would lift restrictions on household mingling earlier than planned, on May 3 instead of May 10, following a better-than-expected drop in coronavirus cases.
The reopening of gyms and leisure centres has also been brought forward by a week to May 3, including for one-to-one training, although group exercise classes remain banned.
All dates are “subject to the public health situation remaining favourable” and will be confirmed at a review of coronavirus regulations on April 22, the Welsh Government said.
It is likely children’s indoor activities, community centres, and organised indoor activities for adults for up to 15 people will resume from May 17.
After May 17, the Welsh government will consider opening up indoor hospitality and remaining visitor accommodation to reopen in advance of the spring bank holiday.