Videos shared to social media captured the scene as shoppers flocked to Oxford Street, one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world, to visit their favorite stores. Groups of young people rushed to purchase sportswear and sneakers as early as 7:30 a.m., while others headed straight to the gym to take part in socially distanced fitness classes.
Photos showed diners seated outside eating breakfast under an umbrella as sleet came down around them.
With restrictions slowly easing across Britain, people in England are now allowed to eat and drink outside in groups of six, go to the zoo, a theme park, or host a wedding with 15 people. They can even get a manicure, an eyebrow wax or a haircut.
The Daily Mail branded Monday “CRAZY FREEZDOM,” while the Sun labeled the new rule that people could eat outdoors with friends and family “Alfreezco dining.”
With excitement in the air that life may finally be returning to some sense of normalcy after three national lockdowns and more than 127,000 lives lost to the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Brits to “behave responsibly” as restrictions lift across the four nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
According to Britain’s Beer and Pub Association, an estimated 15 million pints will be consumed in England this week — despite the low temperatures.
“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.
On Sunday, the prime minister continued to hail the success of the government’s “extraordinary” mass vaccination effort, sharing that more than 7 million people had now been fully vaccinated. Cases are falling in Britain, which was ravaged by the pandemic — with the government frequently criticized for its handling of the health crisis.
Critics say officials moved too slowly to impose measures to curb transmission and that the Conservative government failed national health service staff who were forced onto the front lines without adequate protective wear or access to testing.
Johnson announced last week that he had canceled his plans to enjoy a celebratory pint as restrictions eased up, following the death of the queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who will be buried on Saturday.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all charted their own paths out of the pandemic, and all nations are beginning to weigh more social freedoms. In Wales, hairdressers, shops and schools are now open and Northern Ireland’s “stay home” instruction has been changed to “stay local.”
In Scotland, lockdown is due to ease further later this month.