London: Corks popped, beats boomed out and giddy revelers rushed onto dancefloors when England's nightclubs reopened Monday as the country lifted most remaining restrictions after more than a year of lockdowns, mask mandates and other pandemic-related curbs on freedom.
For clubbers and nightclub owners, the moment lived up to its media-given moniker, “Freedom Day.” But the big step out of lockdown was met with nervousness by many Britons, and concern from scientists, who say the UK is entering uncharted waters by opening up when infections are not falling but soaring.
As of Monday, face masks are no longer legally required in England, and with social distancing rules shelved, there are no limits on the number of people attending theater performances or big events.
For nightclubs, this is the first time they have been allowed to open in almost 18 months, and from London to Liverpool, thousands of people danced the night away at “Freedom Day” parties starting at midnight.
“It's a most joyous occasion," said Mark Troy, who went to The Piano Works club in London. "I love dancing and all my friend circle loves dancing and we haven't been able to do it for one and a half years approximately so we are really excited about it.” The venue's social media marketing manager, Katie Moorhouse, said people were yearning to "have a good boogie again." But while entertainment businesses and ravers are jubilant, many others are deeply worried about the British government's decision to scrap restrictions at a time when COVID-19 cases are on a rapid upswing due to the highly infectious delta variant first identified in India.