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A staff member in a face mask and guard serves drinks at Kuula Poke restaurant in Birmingham on Monday as shops in England reopened after three months.

Photo by PA

In pictures: Huge queues as non-essential shops reopen in England as lockdown eases

There were long queues outside some stores on Monday as shops reopened in England for the first time since March.

Thousands of non-essential shops were allowed to reopen as part of the next phase of the government’s easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

Customers have been encouraged to go out and spend but to “be sensible” in their approach, as the government seeks to begin reopening the economy “gradually and carefully”.

Long queues were seen at Primark stores across the country, with dozens of keen shoppers waiting outside branches of the budget clothes store in Birmingham, Derby, Liverpool and Nottingham.

Small-business minister Paul Scully insisted it was safe to shop, noting the new looks many stores will have as they attempt to ensure social distancing and good hygiene among staff and customers.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The high street is going to be a different place to what it was before, with the one-way systems, with the hand sanitisers, and with people not trying clothes on in the same way.

“But, nonetheless, it is safe to shop. I would encourage people to be sensible, work with the people in the shop but do go out and shop, and start opening our economy gradually and carefully.”

Zoos and safari parks are also welcoming back visitors on Monday, and places of worship can open for private prayer while some secondary school pupils will begin returning to their classrooms.

Boris Johnson said he did not know whether to expect “a flood or a trickle” when the shops reopened but that he hoped people would return in “sensible” numbers.