In Pictures: Travellers take to the skies as road map restores old freedoms

Travel restrictions eased and some of London’s landmarks also took advantage of the latest turn towards normality on the Government’s road map.

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 another well-known building on the capital’s skyline, the BT Tower, was returning to normality.

Sunny Jouhal, general manager of the lastminute.com London Eye, stands on top of a London Eye Pod, 135 meters high above the ground to celebrate the re-opening of the attraction (Matt Alexander/PA)
Sunny Jouhal, general manager of the lastminute.com London Eye, stands on top of a London Eye Pod, 135 metres high above the ground to celebrate the re-opening of the attraction (Matt Alexander/PA)
A digital message, which reads “Less URL, more IRL. Welcome back.” is displayed on the BT Tower Infoband, 190 metres above the streets of London as BT marks the latest phase of the Government’s Covid-19 lockdown measures easing (Anthony Upton/PA)
A digital message, which reads Less URL, More IRL Welcome Back is displayed on the BT Tower Infoband, 190 metres above the streets of London as BT marks the latest phase of the Government’s Covid-19 lockdown measures easing (Anthony Upton/PA)
Passengers check in for the first holiday and leisure flight to take-off at Gatwick Airport, as easyJet relaunches flights from the UK to green-list destinations (David Parry/PA)
Passengers check in for the first holiday and leisure flight to take-off at Gatwick Airport, as easyJet relaunches flights from the UK to green-list destinations (David Parry/PA)
Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal (Gareth Fuller/PA)

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.

People inside Great North Museum in Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)
People inside Great North Museum in Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan making dumplings with head chef Lin Bing during a visit to Dumplings’ Legend in China Town, London (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan making dumplings with head chef Lin Bing during a visit to Dumplings’ Legend in China Town, London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Blackpool was further opening up (Peter Byrne/PA)
Blackpool was further opening up to trade (Peter Byrne/PA)
People inside Laing Art gallery in Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)
People inside Laing Art gallery in Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)

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.

Customers had had to previously brave the elements to partake in drinking in establishments with beer gardens or street terraces but, as Sunday turned to Monday, customers could once again savour some of the indoor treats that had been denied to them.

Some perused a jukebox screen for a favourite track or sank a few balls on the pool table.

Customers at the Showtime Bar in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire take advantage of the early hours of restored freedoms (Danny Lawson/PA)
Customers at the Showtime Bar in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, take advantage of the early hours of restored freedoms (Danny Lawson/PA)
Hugging and drinking indoors have been among the activities subject to strict conditions during lockdown (Jacob King/PA)
Hugging and drinking indoors have been among the activities previously subject to strict conditions during lockdown (Jacob King/PA)

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.

Coronavirus – Mon May 17, 2021
With only outdoor drinking permitted until May 17, some made a beeline for the jukebox with this customer opting for a track by The Prodigy (Jacob King/PA)
The pool table had also been dormant during the months when drinking had been an outdoors activity (Jacob King/PA)
The pool table had also been dormant during the months when drinking had been an outdoors activity (Jacob King/PA)

As restrictions eased and the vaccination programme was rolled out on a massive scale, pubs with beer gardens or other outdoor drinking areas were permitted to reopen but in often inclement weather it was not the most convivial setting for those who chose to partake.

With only visits to toilets allowed indoors, it meant that some of the pleasures of the pub were off limits.

However, Monday’s midnight relaxation of the rules means customers are no longer obliged to brave the elements and can once again embrace the authentic pub experience.

Hugging in pubs is now legal again (Jacob Jing/PA)
Hugging is now legal again as is drinking inside pubs (Jacob King/PA)
Customers enjoy their first drinks inside the Showtime Bar (Danny Lawson/PA)
Customers enjoy their first drinks inside the Showtime Bar in Huddersfield (Danny Lawson/PA)
Glasses are clinked as customers savour what they used to take for granted (Jacob King/PA)
Glasses are clinked as customers savour what they used to take for granted (Jacob King/PA)

With hugging now permitted on the proviso it is sensible, there were plenty of reasons for the midnight drinkers to be cheerful in the early hours but ministers warned that caution was still needed if the target date for the waiving of more restrictions on June 21 is to be met.