By any reckoning, the sun couldn’t have picked a better time to put its hat on.
Temperatures are set to reach 23C (73F) in the coming days as outdoor sport and recreation facilities, including golf courses, open-air swimming pools and tennis and basketball courts, reopen from tomorrow.
It is the first significant easing of Covid restrictions since the current lockdown came into effect in early January.
Saltdean Lido in East Sussex is opening two months earlier than it usually does to welcome those who are desperate for a dip
Among the venues reopening is the Olympic-sized London Fields Lido in Hackney, where manager Katie Foulger said: ‘Our booking system froze a few times because of the surge in people booking. We do advance booking for our members and, when we went live with 1,100 slots on Tuesday, they sold out in four minutes. The same happened again on Wednesday night.’
It is a similar story elsewhere, with the Jubilee Park Lido in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, expecting its first swimmers at 6.30am tomorrow – despite being 20 miles from the nearest city.
Meanwhile, Saltdean Lido in East Sussex is opening two months earlier than it usually does to welcome those who are desperate for a dip.
More than 2,000 bookings have been made for The Wave surfing attraction in Bristol over the coming week.
Chief executive Craig Stoddart said: ‘Booking is actually busier than when we reopened after the first lockdown in August. It feels like there is even more pent-up energy. It’s been a long, cold, wet winter. Everyone wants to spring out of these restrictions.’
Other measures coming into effect mean outside gatherings of six people or two households will be allowed – and the ‘stay at home’ rule will end, although people are being urged to keep the number of journeys they make to a minimum.
Along with the promise of good weather, this has triggered huge demand for barbecue equipment.
Bosses at Asda reported that sales have gone up by 883 per cent in a week – and by 1,337 per cent on this time last year. Sales of garden furniture at Sainsbury’s are up by more than 350 per cent in a year.
Elsewhere, members at Whittington Heath Golf Club in Staffordshire have already snapped up all the available tee times and there is a waiting list of 200.
General manager Colin White said: ‘The club is a key part of many members’ lives for exercise, competition and camaraderie, so being able to return is key to their physical, mental and social well-being.’
The lockdown changes mean weddings will ‘no longer be limited to exceptional circumstances’, although the rule on only six people attending remains. Easter religious services can go ahead, but Government guidance states ‘people from different households (or support bubbles) must not mix when participating in communal worship’.
Temperatures are set to reach 23C (73F) in the coming days as outdoor sport and recreation facilities, including golf courses, open-air swimming pools and tennis and basketball courts, reopen from tomorrow
Protests will be allowed if they are organised by a public body, a recognised business or a political organisation.
But the regulations on funerals are unchanged, with just 30 mourners able to attend.
Meanwhile, pubs and restaurants are set to start serving up pints and dishing out meals from April 12, when more rules are lifted.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘Brits cannot wait for that first pint of draught beer in their local beer garden. It cannot come soon enough.’
There’s a surge in bookings at beauty salons, which can also reopen from April 12. Kirsten Pearson, of Body Matters in Stamford, Lincolnshire, said: ‘The waiting list is growing daily.’
British Beauty Council chief executive Millie Kendall said: ‘We expect a rush of appointments. Clients can’t wait to come back.’