Boozy Brits hit the pub while scuffles break out in shops as lockdown eased

Brave Brits shrugged off blizzards to sup their first pints in months in freezing beer gardens on Monday as pubs, shops and hairdressers re-opened after lockdown.

Three hundred hardy revellers ignored -3C temperatures to sample an ale at the first pub to throw open its doors at 12.01am.

Another 300 had to be turned away as the beer garden at The Oak Inn in Coventry reached capacity in 30 minutes.

The boozer only opened until 5.30am but took 50% more cash than on a normal night as locals sank their first beers since pubs nationwide were forced to shut to combat coronavirus before Christmas.

Student Misha Bennett, 19, who was one of the first to get a drink, said: "It felt like I had been waiting forever for this moment to come.

"Never has a few beers with friends been such a joy as this. I think these simple pleasures we take for granted in life.’"

Other determined drinkers sat supping outside in snowstorms as parts of Britain recorded 1.5in.

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Student nurse Lily Smith, 21, celebrated the re-opening in style with a double vodka and lemonade in The Showtime pub in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, which also opened a minute after midnight.

"It’s an amazing feeling,’" she said.

Historian Chris Marsden said: "It feels like New Year’s Eve! It’s cold, we’ve had snow in Huddersfield and the evening just had that wonderful feeling of expectation about it.

"After all we have been through as a nation it’s a sign of in with the new and we are going forward again.’"

Tom Phillips, from Redcar, North Yorkshire, visited the Ironstone Miner nearby Guisborough on Monday morning for his first-ever breakfast beer with pals.

"I turned 18 in lockdown so this is my first time out having a pint,’" he said.

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"It had to be done.’"

Pubs were not the only businesses desperate to take advantage of the Glorious Twelfth lockdown lift.

At the stroke of midnight staff from the Secret Spa beauty company – which offers at-home salon treatments – arrived in Balham, south London, to pamper their first customers.

Co-owner Emily Ewart-Perks, hairstylist Nas Ganev and tan artist Magdelaine Gibson swooped SWAT-style on excited clients Amy Pallister and Isabella Robinson.

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"It’s so amazing. It’s just been such a long time coming,’" Emily 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 huge surge in demand prompted Emily to offer midnight treatments.

She said: "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?'

"We’re fitting a lot of people in at dawn – a lot of 6am haircuts. Which is amazing because people are going to have their hair cut and blow-dried and then they can get on a Zoom call."

Customer Amy said it felt "amazing" to get her first haircut in eight months just after midnight.

"I can’t stop touching it," she said.

"I’m very impatient so I didn’t want to wait. I booked it as soon as they could fit me in.

"A bit of self-care and pampering definitely makes you feel better, so I’m really looking forward to getting back into the pub gardens and feeling a bit more like myself, rather than being cooped up indoors.

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"I’ve got an excuse to get my nails done and put my makeup on and just enjoy life a bit more now. I’m also hoping my new haircut will get me a date."

Boris Johnson said the lockdown lift was a "major step towards freedom" while urging the public to "behave responsibly".

But the excitement proved too much for some shoppers seen fighting to join queues for limited edition trainers and bargain clothes in stores allowed to open for the first time this year.

Crowds jostled as they fought for places in the queue outside JD Sports in Oxford Street, London, in a desperate bid to get their hands on rare Air Jordan 1s and Nike Dunks.

Police were called to deal with a scrum outside Manchester Arndale shopping centre.

Officers had to help security calm the crowd as cries of "why are you pushing?" and "move back" rang out.

More than 1,000 queued outside Ikea in Bristol while hundreds camped overnight to be among the first allowed back into the world’s biggest Primark in Birmingham.

The retail giant has extended opening hours this week in a bid to recoup profits lost over the pandemic and satisfy demand.

Footfall analysts Springboard are expecting stores to experience a 50% uplift over the next few days.

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