Buskers return to the streets of Brighton as live entertainment resumes (Ciaran McCrickard/PA)
Foreign leisure travel resumed while some of the UK’s own tourist magnets reopened on a day marking another giant step on the road map back towards normality.
Airports saw a step up in activity with advice to stay in the UK relaxed as passengers embarked on flights for countries on the green list.
Travel hubs such as Gatwick Airport saw an increase in footfall as foreign leisure travel partially reopened as the shackles of lockdown were cast off by travellers.
At home, the London Eye was rotating again for those willing to take a spin while Blackpool’s sand art made it clear that the seaside resort was open for business as some of its indoor attractions welcomed customers back while buskers were back in Brighton.
Museums were reopening with the Great North Museum in Newcastle attracting early visitors while seaside resorts such as Blackpool were also taking advantage of the relaxation of rules.
Art galleries were popular destinations while Mayor of London Sadiq Khan signalled the reopening of indoor hospitality by making dumplings in the capital’s Chinatown.
At midnight, revellers in England had been quick to embrace their newly-restored freedoms when some pubs opened their doors at midnight, as the latest easing of restrictions came into force.
Many people also took advantage of more relaxed rules on hugging.
Indoor hospitality was once again open for business with customers now allowed to drink in more comfortable all-weather indoor surroundings and avail themselves of jukeboxes and pool tables while as dawn broke cafes were ready to welcome visitors.
After Christmas was all but cancelled, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had hoped for a better 2021 than the previous year – but it soon became apparent amid a startling rise in cases and deaths that firm action was needed to control the virus with the vaccines programme only in its infancy.
And 2021 had only just begun when another national lockdown was imposed as the country wrestled with an alarming spread of infection.
But as the vaccine rollout gathered pace, the leaders of the four UK nations all took steps to ease the stringent restrictions placed on the population during the health emergency.
Ministers are still urging caution ahead of the scheduled June 21 stage of the road map.