Pints poured, hair trimmed and wedding bills ring on ‘Super Saturday’
Pints are being poured, couples have tied the knot and barbers have opened for the first time in months as coronavirus restrictions were eased across England on what has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday'.
A major easing of lockdown measures has seen pubs, restaurants, bars, hair salons and cinemas able to open their doors again under modified social distancing restrictions.
The Wild Pig in Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, was among the many Shropshire venues opening its doors for the first time since March.
Punters are having to sign in to help with testing and tracing in the event of any confirmed Covid-19 cases and distancing markings have been put in place around the pub.
One-way systems are also being used, along with screens and hand sanitising stations.
Face shields and table service were the order of the day at the White Horse in Ironbridge and staff at The Kings Arms in Church Stretton were also looking forward to opening after spreading out seats and putting hand sanitiser points around the pub.
"We're excited and nervous at the same time," said landlady Sherrie Darch-Williams who will only be offering table service.
"It feels like we're opening the pub for the first time again."
Meanwhile in Llanymynech on the Shropshire/Powys border the Bradford Arms and Cross Keys were ready to welcome customers but the Dolphin, 100 metres away on the Welsh side of the border, must stay closed.
Police in Shropshire have said they are basing their planning for the evening on a normal New Year's Eve – what is usually their busiest night of the year.
Superintendent Mo Lansdale, from West Mercia Police, said the force has planned for the weekend and will have officers "in the places they are needed, at the times they are needed."
Over at West Midlands Police, Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said officers were "praying for rain" for what was likely to be officers' busiest day of the year.
For most of Shropshire the forecast was cloudy and breezy with light rain throughout the day.
Salons and weddings back
Among the first couples to be married in the county were Tracie Kenny and Neal Arden who tied the knot at the Best Western Hotel in Ironbridge.
Weddings are now able to take place, with a maximum limit of 30 guests, but social distancing meant bride Tracie had to show her parents her wedding ring through the hotel window.
Hotel staff were wearing face shields to protect from the virus, much like hairdressers across Shropshire who have been back open today.
There have been queues on high streets across the county as people rush to trim their lockdown locks.
Among the salons open today was Taylors of Bridgnorth, which had been inundated with requests for bookings before the big day.
One of the first people in the country to visit a newly-reopened hair salon said it was nice to feel “like normal” again.
Sandra Jacobs was among the first people through the door at Tusk Hair in Camden on Friday night when the north London business opened its doors at midnight.
There were masks, aprons and faceshields aplenty at the salon, but Ms Jacobs described the trip as “such a relief, I can’t tell you”.
Social distance reminder
Despite the celebrations, ministers have urged the public not to get carried away.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Daily Mail that people were entitled to enjoy themselves at pubs but added: “You could end up behind bars if you break the law.”
He also said he would not “shirk” from shutting pubs and restaurants again, and imposing local lockdowns if needed.
He said: “I’m no killjoy, but the virus can still kill. I don’t want to see bars and pubs have to close again. I love going to the pub and enjoy a pint or two.”
The comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people not to “blow” progress in combating the spread of the disease made during the lockdown as he deployed the Government’s new slogan “enjoy summer safely”.
On Friday, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the pandemic “is a long way from gone” as he urged the public to follow social-distancing rules as guidance is eased.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, also warned of the danger of the “superspreading” of Covid-19 occurring in pubs.
At a Downing Street press conference, Prof Whitty said: “None of us believe, and I’m sure nobody watching this believes, this is a risk-free next step. It is absolutely not, that is why we have to be really serious about it.
“There’s no doubt these are environments whose principal job it is to bring people together, that’s a great thing to do socially but it’s also a great thing from the virus’s point of view.
“Therefore, we do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs.”