Drinkers down pints inside pubs at 12am as indoor mixing rules finally relaxed

Thirsty Brits lapped up their first pint inside a pub for the first time this year as the clock struck midnight.

Punters toasted to their newfound freedoms after indoor lockdown rules were finally eased for the first time since November.

Pubs and restaurants can finally reopen fully today, and Brits are allowed to hug family and mix with friends indoors as part of the rule of six.

Joyful punters were snapped enjoying beers across England as the clock struck 12am on Monday, (May 16).

The Oak Inn in Coventry said 100 people gathered for a beer after he opened his doors at midnight.

Owner Darren Lee told The Sun the opening had been "very well received", and locals were "really glad to be inside, they're really up for it."

Ian Snowball, the owner of Showtime Bar in Huddersfield, said it was "incredible" to be able to let punters inside.

He said: "The anticipation and the planning has been amazing. We've got all the staff here and everyone's happy.

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"It's nice to be inside, warm … I don't have to have a hoodie or a coat on anymore – it's great.

"And hopefully we don't have to go back outside again, hopefully, this is the end of it now."

Stage three of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown is the biggest ease of lockdown rules so far, with holidays, casual sex, and hugs back on the cards for Brits in England.

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Those happy to brave the washout weather can meet in groups of up to thirty in a beer garden or park.

Customers will still need to remain seated while they order food and drink, and must wear face coverings while being taken to a table or heading to the toilet.

While larger numbers are permitted to meet outside, social distancing between different groups will be encouraged.

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It's thought nine million pints will be downed and seven million meals eaten as 140,000 restaurants, pubs and cafes fully reopen again.

Dubbed the unofficial Booze Holiday Monday, 50% of annual leave has been taken by Brits to have the biggest day off for 18 months outside major holidays.

14million hospitality customers will embrace today with hugs back on the cards, 2.5million heading to their local boozer, and 4.5million enjoying a meal out at a restaurant.

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It's also estimated seven million Brits will visit cafes and coffee shops for those important catch-ups over a hot cuppa.

Over the next week, as many as 60million pints are estimated to be drunk.

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “There is significant demand for the indoor reopening of pubs and restaurants after 14 months of severely disrupted trading.”

Steven Alton, CEO of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said: “Some pubs open outdoors had drink stocks already in cellars — but they have had to add to them with fresh orders due to an expected increase in demand.”

It comes as Boris Johnson warned Brits to enjoy the new freedoms but to have a 'dose of caution'.

The Prime Minister said we need to 'play our part' and be responsible.

He said: “Together we have reached another milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution.

“We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.”

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