'I'm so excited' - England reopens with pints pulled, shopping sprees
and hair cuts
Send a link to a friend
[April 12, 2021]
By Carl Recine and Kate Holton
BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - People
queued up outside retailers across England on Monday to release their
pent-up shopping fever and some grabbed a midnight pint or even an early
haircut as England's shops, pubs, gyms and hairdressers reopened after
three months of lockdown.
After imposing the most onerous restrictions in Britain's peacetime
history, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the reopening was a "major
step" towards freedom but urged people to behave responsibly as the
coronavirus was still a threat.
As the sun rose, dozens of people queued up outside Primark in English
cities such as Birmingham and outside JD Sports on Oxford Street in
London, undeterred by the unseasonably cold weather.
Some folk lined up after midnight to raise a pint with fellow revellers
at the Kentish Belle in Bexleyheath, south London, and at the Oak Inn in
Coventry, central England.
"I'm so excited to see my clients: to see how they are and give them
that feeling that they get from having had their hair done," Maggie
Grieve, who manages Beaucatcher hairdressers in north London, told
"Today is going to feel like every hairdresser's birthday. The
well-wishers have already come in: emails, texts, WhatsApps, even
neighbours in the street wishing luck and joy. It feels great. Now can't
wait to get to the pub," Grieve said.
Getting people spending again is crucial for Britain's recovery after
official data showed that 2020 was the worst year for its economy in
more than three centuries with a 9.8% decline in gross domestic product.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses have been closed since early January
when England entered a third lockdown to stem surging infections driven
by the "Kent" variant of the virus.
A vaccination campaign that has delivered a first shot to well over half
of adults and lockdown measures have cut deaths by more than 95% and
cases by over 90% from the January peak.
[to top of second column]
Customer shops inside as retail store Primark in Birmingham, Britain
reopens its doors after a third lockdown imposed in early January
due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, April
12, 2021. REUTERS/Carl Recine
Industry lobby group, the British Retail Consortium, estimates UK
stores have lost 27 billion pounds ($37 billion) in sales over three
lockdowns, while 67,000 retail jobs were shed in 2020 alone.
Some 17,532 chain store outlets vanished from high streets, shopping
centres and retail parks across the UK last year, according to data
compiled by researcher the Local Data Company for accountancy firm
"I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who
have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it's a chance to
get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed,"
Johnson said in a statement on Sunday.
"I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember
'hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress COVID as we push on
with our vaccination programme."
With more than 127,000 fatalities, the United Kingdom has the fifth
highest death toll in the world from COVID-19.
Non-essential stores, such as home and fashion chains, will reopen
in Wales as well as England on Monday, although those in Scotland
need to wait until April 26.
Pubs and restaurants will only be able to serve outdoors from
Monday, although early rules requiring meals to be served with
drinks and curfews have been scrapped.
Indoor service will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest.
($1 = 0.7296 pounds)
(Writing by Paul Sandle, James Davey and Guy Faulconbridge;
additional reporting by Andrew Boyers in Warwick and Kate Holton in
London. Editing by Jane Merriman and Raissa Kasolowsky)
[© 2021 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2021 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.