Thirst through the door: drinkers return to pubs on stroke of midnight as lockdown eases

Customers enjoy a game of pool and a hug at the The Oak Inn in Coventry (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
8:55am, Mon 17 May 2021
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Revellers in England were quick to embrace their newly-restored freedoms when some pubs opened at midnight, as the latest easing of restrictions came into force.

Up until midnight, customers had to rely on the weather to partake in drinking in establishments with beer gardens or street terraces.

As Sunday turned to Monday, customers could once again savour some of the indoor treats that had been denied to them, such as perusing a jukebox screen for a favourite track or sinking a few balls on the pool table.

Customers at the Showtime Bar in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire take advantage of the early hours of restored freedoms (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
Hugging and drinking indoors have been among the activities subject to strict conditions during lockdown (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
Left to right Rebecca Mitchell, Rosie Delaney and Isobel Logan enter the Showtime Bar just after midnight in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

After Christmas was all but cancelled, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had hoped for a better 2021 than the previous year – but it soon became apparent amid a startling rise in cases and deaths that firm action was needed to control the virus with the vaccines programme only in its infancy.

And 2021 had only just begun when another national lockdown was imposed as the country wrestled with an alarming spread of infection.

A man carries a tray of drinks to a table at the The Oak Inn in Coventry (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
Coronavirus – Mon May 17, 2021 (PA Wire)
The pool table had also been dormant during the months when drinking had been an outdoors activity (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

As restrictions eased and the vaccination programme was rolled out on a massive scale, pubs with beer gardens or other outdoor drinking areas were permitted to reopen but in often inclement weather it was not the most convivial setting for those who chose to partake.

With only visits to toilets allowed indoors, it meant that some of the pleasures of the pub were off limits.

However, Monday’s midnight relaxation of the rules saw pool tables once again available to customers while some drinkers made a beeline for the jukebox so they could mark the occasion with their favourite music.

Hugging in pubs is now legal again (Jacob Jing/PA) (PA Wire)
Barr staff celebrate in the Showtime Bar at midnight in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
Glasses are clinked as customers savour what they used to take for granted (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

Indoor pub drinking was not the only relaxation of the rules that came into effect on Monday and many customers also took advantage of another easing of the lockdown conditions.

Hugging, under a more vague instruction to be sensible, was now allowed and many customers toasted and embraced each other in another step on the road back to normality.

Customers enjoy their first drinks inside the Showtime Bar (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

Drinkers toast each other in Coventry (Jacob King/PA)

(PA Wire)

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