‘Buzzing’ ravers pack out clubs as clock strikes midnight on Freedom Day

Brits didn't mind queueing up in the humid air on Sunday night in order to be the first to enter bars and clubs for Freedom Day.

Some excited clubbers spent more than an hour in the line to be able to enjoy the first rule-free night out since the pandemic began last March.

They were eager to dance through the night and be able to interact with others as England lifts most coronavirus restrictions at midnight on July 19.

One party-goer was ecstatic to be able to dance again in what she said seems "like forever".

Georgia Pike, 31, was queueing at the Oval Space in Hackney, east London.

She said: "I want to dance, I want to hear live music, I want the vibe of being at a gig, of being around other people."

Gabriel Wildsmith, 26, a video producer, said he had been waiting for an hour to get into EGG nightclub in north London.

"I'm so excited I've been waiting for this for so long… basically since we locked down," he said.

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"I love going to clubs and I love meeting random people.

"You make great friends and you couldn't do that until tonight."

He added: "I've been here for an hour, I'm really keen."

Fundraiser Chloe Waite, 37, described the reopening of the club as "like New Year".

"It's a bit like New Year isn't it? It's going to be a special night," she told the PA news agency.

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"Whether we'll have more of these in the future, who can say, I wouldn't like to speculate.

"For me this is a New Year's-type event and something we're going to remember for a long, long time and we might not get the opportunity for a while."

Epidemiologists are skeptical over easing rules, but revellers have had enough of staying inside and not embracing the 'normality' of life after 18 months of lockdowns.

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The hospitality sector has been desperate to reopen after facing several months of closed clubs and bars having to change their services to fit in with lockdown rules.

Alex Clarke, 40, who was at the front of the queue, said: "There's a bit of apprehension and uncertainty about the protocols.

"But as long as everyone is sensible then it'll be alright."

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One woman, Dolores Frankenstein, wasn't sure how the night would be and admitted she was a "bit bored of queueing already".

Liam Turner, 24, a warehouse worker from Banbury, said he had "missed the buzz of being in a queue going into a club".

"I need a wee but we're in the queue, I've missed the feeling.

"We're so keen, it's been so many months, too many months so I'm just glad to be back.

"I've missed the buzz of being in the queue going into a club."

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There is still some concern over the recent wave of new Covid cases, with more than 50,000 being recorded per day across the UK.

Gary Cartmill, 26, at Oval Space added: "I am so excited – but it's mixed with the sense of impending doom."

Britain has one of the world's highest death tolls from coronavirus, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is lifting most restrictions in England for Freedom Day.

The Government is hopeful that the more people receive their vaccinations, the less likelihood of patients getting seriously ill if they catch Covid-19 and instead endure mild symptoms.

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Covid rules for Monday, July 19 – Freedom Day

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Today marks 'freedom day' in England, as the majority of the remaining legal Covid restrictions are eased. After several months of lockdowns and coronavirus rules, the country is finally opening up back to full normality as part of the final step in the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

Social distancing limits are mostly over now, there is no more "rule of six" and restrictions of standing "one metre plus" from each other.

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Groups of more than six people from various households are allowed to meet up indoors and outside.

Businesses will open their doors again, including clubs that had to shut for most of the pandemic.

Legal limits on the number of people who can attend weddings and funerals will also end – as well as bubbles in schools.

Legally, there are no rules on wearing face masks anymore in indoor settings, however, the Government says it "expects and recommends" masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded spaces.

This may include public transport or mixing with people you don't usually meet.

The official message to those in England is of "personal responsibility".

Sadiq Khan has said face masks will be compulsory on London's transport network, as well as buses in West and South Yorkshire, passengers on North East's Metro and Greater Manchester's Metrolink tram.

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