Watch: England’s shoppers return as second lockdown ends
England took a step closer to normality on “Wild Wednesday” as customers flocked back to shops and pools after its second coronavirus lockdown ended.
Queues outside clothes shops, early swims and dawn haircuts were all seen in the morning.
Non-essential shops can reopen their doors and gyms can keep running in any of the three new coronavirus tiers.
Pubs are allowed to serve customers again – though whether they can serve pints as normal, or with a substantial meal or as a takeaway service depends on an area’s restrictions.
Tier 1 is the lightest of the three sets of local restrictions, which are tougher on hospitality venues than the previous system.
However, just three authorities are in this tier – the Isles of Scilly, Isle of Wight and one area from the mainland, Cornwall – while all others fall into Tiers 2 and 3.
Tier 2 bans gatherings indoors with people you don’t live with in most circumstances and pubs can only serve alcohol with a substantial meal – the meaning of which has confused even ministers.
Tier 3 sees indoor entertainment, hotels and accommodation being told to shut while pubs must operate as takeaways if they want to remain open.
Retailers worked to make their premises COVID-secure as they braced for the return of customers on what was dubbed “Wild Wednesday”.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Safety remains the biggest priority for retailers, who have spent hundreds of millions to make stores COVID-secure.
“With billions in sales lost during lockdown, stores are looking to offer a safe and enjoyable shopping experience to bring back customers.
“Christmas is around the corner so everyone has a reason to be visiting their local shops.
“Every purchase we make is a retailer helped, a job protected and a local community supported.”
The reopening comes amid fears for the high street as Debenhams and Arcadia’s woes put 25,000 jobs at risk.
Elsewhere, Primark is reopening its 153 stores with longer shopping hours and 11 stores are to stay open 24 hours from 7am on Wednesday.
A total of 19 Ikea stores opened in England, while Selfridges is setting up an outdoor Christmas market it describes as a “mini version” of Hyde Park’s cancelled Winter Wonderland.
The reopening comes on the same day that the UK became the first nation to approve emergency use of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.
Watch: How the new tiers system works