Revellers across England are today preparing for the biggest night of drinking in six months, as bars prepare to open for the first Friday night since the easing of strict Covid rules

Revellers across England are today preparing for the biggest night of drinking in six months, as bars prepare to open for the first Friday night since the easing of strict Covid rules. 

Lockdown-weary Britons are expected to knock back a staggering five million pints and 500,000 bottles of wine tonight.

The Friday night spending spree is set fill the tills of the depleted hospitality industry to the tune of £100million.

Despite Covid rules still being in place, revellers are expected to hit the towns in their thousands tonight, when pubs open for the first weekend night since lockdown began in January.

Some areas have been forced to wait even longer – six months – due to the previous local tier system.

Friday will be the first weekend night were pubs and bars across England have been allowed to open – albeit only for outdoor drinking – since October last year.

Revellers across England are today preparing for the biggest night of drinking in six months, as bars prepare to open for the first Friday night since the easing of strict Covid rules. Pictured: Revellers in Newcastle enjoyed a Thursday night drink

Revellers across England are today preparing for the biggest night of drinking in six months, as bars prepare to open for the first Friday night since the easing of strict Covid rules.

Pictured: Revellers in Newcastle enjoyed a Thursday night drink

Lockdown-weary Britons are expected to knock back a staggering five million pints tonight and fill the tills of the depleted hospitality industry to the tune of £100million. Pictured: In Newcastle people gathered on Thursday night for a drink

Lockdown-weary Britons are expected to knock back a staggering five million pints tonight and fill the tills of the depleted hospitality industry to the tune of £100million. Pictured: In Newcastle people gathered on Thursday night for a drink

On what is being dubbed 'Fab Friday', revellers are expected to hit the towns in their thousands - despite Covid rules still being in place - when pubs open for the first weekend night since lockdown began in January. Pictured: Pubs and bars were busy in Soho on Thursday night

On what is being dubbed ‘Fab Friday’, revellers are expected to hit the towns in their thousands – despite Covid rules still being in place – when pubs open for the first weekend night since lockdown began in January.

Pictured: Pubs and bars were busy in Soho on Thursday night

But revellers will have to wrap-up in more than just a beer jacket when they hit the pubs and bars this weekend, as they’ll have to remain in outdoor areas under current Covid rules.

And with night time temperatures in London set to drop to 5C in the evening, it will be more than just the beer that will be chilled.

Britons have already been busy cramming into streets and outdoor seating areas this week after the Government eased restrictions on the hospitality industry on Monday.

Pubs and bars in England can now open outdoor seating areas to welcome back groups of up to six people, or two households.

Indoor seating will not be allowed until at least May 17 under the Government’s current roadmap out of lockdown.

Wales will keep its pubs shut until April 27, much to the frustration of the country’s hospitality chiefs, as will Scotland.

Meanwhile, pubs and cafes can reopen in Northern Ireland for outdoor service on April 30, and indoors from May 24.

In England, thousands of people headed out across the country on Monday night to enjoy a first taste of freedom from lockdown when the bars reopened for the first time since early January.

Revellers were seen packing into the streets around Soho in London, as well as in Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

But police were seen keeping a watchful eye over proceedings in popular drinking hotspots in London earlier this week.

Officers were seen attempting to break-up big crowds as people cheered, sang and raised their drinks to a first night of freedom.

Ahead of this weekend, Kate Nicholls, boss of UKHospitality, told the Sun that Britons were eager for a return to pubs and bars.

She said: ‘Bookings are very strong for the first few weeks of outdoor reopening.

People are eager to socialise again.’ 

According to a study by VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research, people in England are expected to splash out £100million on drinks this weekend.

A further £1.5billion is expected to be spent in shops, which will also welcome back customers for the first weekend of trading since Christmas.

Crowds of shoppers pack Northumberland Street in Newcastle on Wednesday, two days after non-essential stores reopened for the first time in months

Crowds of shoppers pack Northumberland Street in Newcastle on Wednesday, two days after non-essential stores reopened for the first time in months

Some high street chains are offering bumper discounts, including tech giant Currys, which is offering 70 per cent off, and Superdrug, which is offering 50 per cent off.  

It come as Britain last night recorded 12 per cent fewer coronavirus cases than last week and 43 per cent less deaths, as one of the country’s top scientists said the UK was on the cusp of achieving herd immunity.

The Department of Health’s usual daily count showed there were 2,672 Covid diagnoses in the past 24 hours and 30 fatalities, down from 3,030 and 53 a week ago, respectively.

Ministers can be confident with each day that passes and infections continue to fall that England’s loosening of restrictions has not sparked a resurgence of the virus.

The Government reintroduced the rule of six outdoors, allowing family and friends to meet up and enjoy the sunny weather, on March 29 and outdoor pubs, shops, gyms and hairdressers were given the green light on Monday.

Experts said today there was ‘nothing at the moment’ to suggest any of those relaxations will cause an uptick in infections.

Professor Tracy Hussell, an immunologist and director of the Lydia Becker Institute of Immunology and Inflammation at Manchester University, told MailOnline: ‘The UK is in a relatively stable position at the moment.’

Health chiefs also revealed 343,783 vaccines were administered on Wednesday, taking the total number of Brits fully vaccinated to more than 8.5million. About 32.5m Brits – more than half the population – have been given at least one dose.

It comes after a top scientist behind the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study claimed today the latest raft of statistics suggested the UK is ‘starting to see herd immunity take effect’.

King’s College London epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector explained this was because more than 60 per cent of the adult population had received at least one dose and up to 10 per cent were protected by previous infection.

Public Health England data today showed the proportion of tests coming back positive has now slumped to new lows, with fewer than one in 500 swabs picking up the disease in parts of the country.

And their weekly surveillance report found Covid infections were still falling in every age group and region in the week ending April 11, suggesting the loosening of curbs ahead of Easter did not cause the nation’s outbreak to spike.

Separate Test and Trace data showed the number of weekly cases in England dropped by 34 per cent in the first week of April, with fewer than 20,000 positive tests recorded.

Professor Tim Spector, a King’s College London epidemiologist who runs the UK’s largest Covid symptom tracking study, said the epidemic had ‘mainly’ been squashed by the ‘exemplar vaccine programme’.

He said: ‘As the UK slowly exits lockdown, I’m encouraged to see Covid cases continue to fall with our rates among the lowest in Europe.

‘In fact, the UK closely mirrors cases in Israel with its exemplar vaccine programme.

‘Based on our data and countries like Israel, I believe the fall in cases since January is mainly thanks to the vaccination programme and less about the strict lockdown the UK has been under since late December.

‘With up to 60 per cent of the population vaccinated and around 5 to 10 per cent with natural immunity due to infection, we’re starting to see herd immunity take effect.

This should prevent future large-scale outbreaks.’

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