Brits get the beers in in pub gardens across UK on first day restrictions eased

After months stuck indoors, Brits were raring to go as pubs around England finally threw open their doors on Monday.

Some establishments opened as the clock struck midnight, with long queues of punters waiting to claim their outdoor table booked weeks in advance.

Others have chosen to wait for more normal business hours before they resume pouring pints and serving snacks in a coronavirus-safe manner in what's being called the Great British Booze-Off.

Jubilation is in the air even as the much-anticipated grand reopening has coincided with a spring cold snap, with snow, rain and chilly temperatures afflicting much of England.

But that certainly isn't stopping cooped-up Brits from making the most of Monday's relaxation of restrictions.

Many pubs with 24-hour licences opened as soon as they were allowed at 12:01am on April 12.

London establishments including The Kentish Belle and The Half Moon saw throngs of happy punters flood their beer gardens after midnight, with photos showing beaming faces and generous pints being swigged.

In Newcastle, the Switch bar and the Bank did the same, despite temperatures dropping below freezing overnight.

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Wetherspoons, the pub chain behemoth owned by lockdown sceptic Tim Martin, is opening almost 400 of its pubs across England and Wales on Monday.

Only venues with outdoor seating capabilities have been permitted to open, which has seen some resort to creative solutions.

Some pubs without substantial beer gardens, rooftop seating areas or patios have even created extra seating space in the car parks so they can cram in more punters after a financially ruinous year.

Indoor seating will only be opening in the second stage of relaxation of lockdown on May 17.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, has warned that for pubs and restaurants to open "outdoors only is is not economically feasible and delaying opening until May without significant additional compensation will see large numbers of business failures and job losses".

There are around 37,500 pubs in England which could in theory open outdoors, but just 15,000 have a big enough outdoor space or beer garden, the Mirror reports.

Meanwhile a pub in Coventry is being investigated by the local council after more than 100 people were filmed queuing outside for the midnight reopening.

Darren Lee, manager of The Oak Inn, said the venue was "absolutely mobbed" when the clock struck 12 and they had to turn many people away as they only had outdoor seating for 260 customers.

Another pub owner, Chris Driver of The Derry in Stockton-on-Tees, managed to celebrate two reopenings by squeezing in a quick gym session before making the final preparations to reopen.

With 450 customers booking tables in the pub's renovated beer garden, Mr Driver told the BBC it "feels like New Year's Day".

Punters can only drink in groups of six or fewer and must keep two metres from those outside their circle.

All customers must also check-in under the new regulations, either by leaving their details or using the Test and Trace app.

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