Shops, pubs and gyms reopen under tier system as shops prepare for ‘Wild Wednesday’
People queueing outside T.K.Maxx in Birmingham – PA Coronavirus Article Bar with counter Shops, gyms
Shops, gyms and pubs have reopened as England’s new tier system came into effect, with retailers preparing for what has been called ‘Wild Wednesday’.
As the national lockdown came to an end, shoppers were seen queuing outside stores in Oxford Street and Birmingham from as early as 5am in a bid to do some Christmas shopping.
Fitness fans also headed for the gym at midnight while others had haircuts at 1am as England got its first taste of freedom since early November, in what has become known online as ‘Wild Wednesday’.
England’s new tier system came into effect at midnight on Tuesday, with 99 per cent of the nation entering the toughest Tier 2 and 3 restrictions.
People in the tougher tiers are banned from all indoor socialising with other households apart from over the Christmas period, but are now able to visit shops and pubs as long as they serve a “substantial meal”.
Shoppers were seen socially distanced queuing outside Primark in Birmingham, the biggest in the world, from 5am as retailers welcomed back customers.
Debenhams has also started a fire sale of its stock as administrators began to liquidate the department store after 242 years of trading, with predictions that thousands will head to their stores in search of a bargain.
As before when shops reopened following the first lockdown, many have implemented measures to limit the number of people entering shops, as well as enforcing social distancing rules, setting up hand sanitiser stations and carrying out more frequent deep cleaning.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Thousands of retailers are looking forward to welcoming back customers.
“Safety remains the biggest priority for retailers, who have spent hundreds of millions to make stores Covid-secure.
“With billions in sales lost during lockdown, stores are looking to offer a safe and enjoyable shopping experience to bring back customers.
“Christmas is around the corner so everyone has a reason to be visiting their local shops.
“Every purchase we make is a retailer helped, a job protected and a local community supported.”
Swimming pools, leisure centres and gyms were also allowed to reopen, with many getting up early to take advantage the facilities after nearly a month away.
Andreas Michli, 34, who was fined £67,000 for keeping his Zone Gym in Wood Green, North London, open during lockdown, was mobbed by supporters as he threw his doors open on the stroke of midnight.
Pubs have also had their curfew extended to 11pm but are grappling with fresh regulations.
Those in Tier 2, which will cover 57 per cent of England’s population, will only be able to serve alcohol alongside a “substantial meal” and must obey rules restricting household mixing indoors.
In Tier 3, pubs and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway and delivery services.
The tiers will be reviewed every fortnight and Mr Johnson promised MPs a fresh vote on whether to keep the system before February 2.
Only Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly face the lightest Tier 1 restrictions.