Revellers traipsed the damp streets of the nation’s cities last night on the first Friday since lockdown rules were relaxed to allow people inside pubs and bars.
Despite the wind and rain, party-goers appeared in high spirits as they swapped a night in at home to hit the numerous bars in the country’s cities and prepared to celebrate with their friends into the small hours.
The scenes follows pubs and bars in England being allowed to open their indoor seating areas and welcoming back groups of up to six people, or two households.
Jubilant revellers were spotted covering their heads and donning their beer jackets as they enjoyed the first Friday night out in Manchester city centre since the latest easing of lockdown rules.
Meanwhile in Soho, central London, pub-goers sat outside the capital’s numerous bars and restaurants despite the heavy downpours.
It comes amid a warning from UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls that many venues have not made it through the shutdown, which means the look of the high street will change as Covid-19 restrictions lift.
Six revellers pose for the camera as they enjoy the first weekend in Liverpool since lockdown rules were relaxed to allow people inside pubs and bars
Two people are caught out in the heavy rain, sheltering under their purse and jacket, as they move between bars on the first Friday evening that bars are open in Newcastle city centre after the latest easing of lockdown restrictions
Four revellers pose for the camera as they hit the streets of Leeds for a rainy night out on Friday evening
Huge groups of people took to the streets of London as they enjoyed a taste of normality now indoor dining and drinking is allowed
In Cardiff, another reveller was spotted using her jacket to protect herself from the elements as rain and wind continues to hit the city
In Newcastle, revellers braved the heavy downpours as they took to the city centre and prepared to celebrate with their friends
Revellers braved the wind and rain as they walking into Manchester city centre and prepared to enjoy their first Friday night since lockdown rules were relaxed to allow people inside at pubs and bars
Despite the torrential rain, revellers took to the streets of Newcastle (left) and Manchester (right) to enjoy a night out
Revellers brave the wind and rain as they take to the street in Leeds and begin celebrations for their Friday night
Women in Leeds are seen making their way along the rain-soaked streets as they enjoyed a night out
People drinking and eating in the rain in Soho, London. Two women are seen outside a bar
Revellers use umbrellas and their jackets to protect themselves from the rain as they take to the streets of Newcastle last night
A group of friends wear their face masks as they take to the streets of Newcastle city centre on Friday night
Revellers brave the elements as they take to the streets in Leeds last night after pubs and bars in England were allowed to open their indoor seating areas
A group of friends huddle underneath an umbrella as they enjoy a night out in Newcastle city centre on Friday night
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘There has been a contraction of one in 10 restaurants across the UK but in our high streets it is as high as one in five, so our high streets are going to look very different – that’s overall including pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, and the contraction has been right across the board in those areas.
‘All of our businesses are suffering and sadly we have lost 660,000 members of staff.
‘Furlough and business support has kept those numbers as low as we can but there is a big risk as we come out of this pandemic, as these businesses are going to be very heavily in debt.
‘They are much more indebted than any other sector of the economy. In particular, they have got high levels of rent debt so the shadow of Covid is going to hang over these businesses for about six months before we know that we can get them through.’
She suggested that the amount of business and premises losses, particularly among independent firms, could escalate further if the Government’s road map is changed and as business support tapers off in the summer.
The latest restrictions lift also means the return of small in-home meetings and groups of up to 30 people can now meet outdoors in England and Scotland.
Hugging is also permitted between close family and friends across the UK, except in Northern Ireland, where they remain in place until at least May 24.
Other recreational venues such as cinemas, museums, theatres and concert halls will be allowed to reopen, although there will be capacity limits on large events.
A group of people took to the streets of Soho, central London, in the rain last night and enjoyed a night out
Two women were seen laughing and looking at a phone in Leeds as they enjoyed a rainy night out
Groups of people are seen laughing and talking to each other on the soggy street in Soho, central London, on Friday night
Groups are seen outside having a cigarette in Soho, central London. Restaurants and bars were packed with revellers
Two policemen are seen speaking to a group of revellers outside a pub in the rain in Soho, central London, on Friday night
Huge groups of people gathered to enjoy a meal and drink under a sheltered area in Soho, London, on Friday night
Speaking before the restrictions were eased, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged families to adopt a ‘heavy dose of caution’ when enjoying their new found freedom in a bid to prevent a spike in new Covid cases.
Last night, revellers cross the country were spotted braving the rain in their hordes as they enjoyed their new freedom by toasting the return of pubs and restaurants.
Pictures showed people flocking to pubs and bars while doing their best to avoid the downpours of rain with some desperately held pieces of clothing over their heads.
Drinkers also hit the streets in Newcastle, Leeds and other cities across the UK to see their friends after months of lockdown.
It came despite the Met Office issuing a yellow weather warning and predicted gusts of up to 60mph in Wales and southern England.
A group of friends take to the streets despite the heavy downpours and hundreds across the country enjoy their first Friday night since lockdown rules were relaxed to allow people inside pubs and bars
A group of friends brave the winds as they take to the streets and prepare for a Friday night out in Cardiff city centre
Queues begin to form outside a bar in Leeds city centre as hundreds of revellers decide to swap their night in to celebrate with their friends
Friends try to shelter themselves from the rain with a jacket as they take to the street of Leeds city centre
A group of friends posed for a photo as they took to the streets and prepared for a night out in Leeds
A woman uses her jacket to protect herself from the rain as she begins her Friday night out in Leeds last night
Party-goers try refuse to let the rain dampen their spirits as they take to the streets in Leeds on Friday night
Crowds of revellers stand outside in the rain as hundreds of people take to the streets of Soho in central London
People sit outside despite the wet and windy weather as hundreds take to the street to enjoy a night out
Revellers sit at outdoor tables as they meet with friends in central London’s Soho and enjoy a night out
Revellers celebrated with their friends after pubs and bars in England were allowed to open their indoor seating areas and welcomed back groups of up to six people, or two households
Revellers shelter themselves from the rain in Soho, central London, as hundreds across the country enjoy their Friday night out
Pub-goers sat outside the numerous bars, pubs and restaurants in London’s Soho last night despite the wind and heavy rain
A group of friends sit outside a restaurant in London as revellers in London and Manchester prepared to enjoy their first Friday night since lockdown rules were relaxed to allow people inside at pubs and bars
A woman protects herself from the rain with an umbrella as people across the capital decided to celebrate a night out
Revellers wear their jackets as they sit outside a bar in Soho, central London, and enjoyed their first Friday night out since the latest easing of lockdown rules
Despite the win and rain, pub-goers took the the capital’s numerous bars and restaurants to enjoy a Friday night out
The latest restrictions lift also means the return of small in-home meetings and groups of up to 30 people can now meet outdoors in England and Scotland
Earlier today, a canoeist died after getting into difficulty in a fast-flowing river amid UK-wide weather alerts from the Met Office that warned the country faced strong winds, thunderstorms and flash floods over the weekend.
The body of a man, who has not been identified by the emergency services, was found washed up downstream from the River Ure near the village of Nunwick, in North Yorkshire.
The news came amid fresh fears that gale force winds, thunderstorms and flash floods could ensure the national weather misery continues into Saturday and Sunday.
Hundreds of homes have also been left without power as the nation was battered by 85mph gusts and will brace itself for a weekend washout and further chaos.
As the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for strong winds on Friday in south-east England – stretching from Norwich to Southampton – the Royal National Lifeboat Institution advised people to stay out of the water after dramatic footage emerged of a Welsh surfer being rescued.