The streets of Soho filled with merry drinkers in London on Saturday and the pubs of Manchester were packed as England’s hospitality sector returned from a three-month coronavirus hiatus.
“It feels amazing,” said Leo Richard Bill, a soldier, after getting through the door of one of London’s buzziest restaurants on the Thames River’s popular south bank.
“It’s been what, like three months since... me and everyone else haven’t been able to get outside and have a good time. So yeah, it feels good to get amongst it,” he said.
Parts of London and other cities, deserted during the lockdown, sprang to life as people dressed up and came out for “Super Saturday” -- the day England’s hospitality sector reopened for the first time since March.
“The boys are back in town,” one young man happily shouted while maneuvering his pint through lines of crammed tables on a closed-off London street.
“At some point you’ve to get back out there,” said Nick, a 38-year-old accountant, about the lingering dangers of an illness that has officially killed more people in Britain -- 44,198 -- than anywhere else in Europe.
Many of the social distancing rules drilled in by ministers at daily televised briefings appeared to go out the window in Soho, where groups of people meandered between pubs and restaurants without a facemask in sight.
“English people, when we are together we have a great time,” Londoner Jeff Mason said.