English pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers reopened their doors on Saturday after more than three months of coronavirus lockdown.
Authorities had urged caution, but not all revellers appeared to follow social distancing measures.
For now, groups of more than six people are still not allowed in the UK, and it is recommended to keep two-meter apart or to use protections if that is not feasible.
Nevertheless, thousands in London gathered to the famous district of Soho, assembling in large groups, drinking and dancing with little social distancing and almost total absence of face mask.
The country has eased up on restrictions later than other nations after experiencing the worst outbreak in Europe with more than 280,000 cases and 44,000 official deaths.
The easing of restrictions on Saturday included hairdressers, outdoor gyms and playgrounds, hotels, cinemas, museums, art galleries, arcades, libraries, and community centres.
Queues formed outside hairdressers as places reopened with necessary masks and new distancing measures in place, as in other countries that have eased lockdowns.
Several pubs said they were swamped as people rushed to celebrate the reopening.
But other pub managers said that they planned to reopen next week or later this month due to concerns over weekend crowding that could put restaurant workers at risk.
Ellie Grainger, a manager at London pub The Lyric, said that controlling how many people could enter the toilets (just one person at any given time) was proving difficult.
It’s one of the several measures put in place by the government to encourage social distancing.
The other measures include keeping tables one metre from others, making sure people wear masks when not seated with their group, frequent cleaning and hand washing, and making sure there are queue points to encourage further distancing.
Those who go to pubs will also have to leave their contact details as part of the National Health Service (NHS)’s Test and Trace system so that if there is a confirmed coronavirus case, guests can be contacted.
I went to see what was happening in the Westend of London. I have to say that while in Covent Garden things were reasonably quiet, on the other hand in Soho it was a different story.