Outdoor hospitality, events and grooming salons will be open for business in England from Monday and some people are planning to cram in as many activities as possible after months of hibernation.
Kriti Sachdeva is more excited about the easing of national lockdown restrictions than she is about her birthday in November. “I want to celebrate,” she said. “I want to do everything, I just worry I won’t have time to fit it all in.”
She plans to go to the gym, eat brunch on the pavement at her favourite cafe, hit the shops, meet up with friends for a group outdoor yoga class and see work colleagues for drinks at an outdoor pub.
“We haven’t been able to do any of these things for such a long time,” said Sachdeva, 33, the marketing manager at Novos, an e-commerce startup. “I really want to get back to living more of a normal life. I’m most excited about getting to meet my colleagues as I got a new job during lockdown, so I haven’t met them face-to-face yet.”
All of the activities on Sachdeva’s agenda are only possible in England from Monday, when the roadmap to reopening businesses and society moves to the second stage of eased conditions following the most recent national lockdown, which began in January.
“Life has been like that movie Groundhog Day where the weatherman wakes up and it is exactly the same day all over again every day,” said Sachdeva, from Southend-on-Sea. “I’m sick of lockdown, totally utterly sick of it. I have stuck to the rules, that’s maybe why I’m so sick of it. I want to make Monday different – life has to be more varied that this.”
Sachdeva hoped to take advantage of the relaxation of rules that had also banned haircuts and beauty treatments, “but I didn’t get in there fast enough, all the hair salons near me are already booked out”.
The rollercoasters at the Southend theme park Adventure Island were also on Sachdeva’s to-do list, but unfortunately the park will only open at weekends. “I guess I was too excited and saw everything such as rides details, but missed that they will open only on weekends,” she said. “I will be there at the weekend.”
Other theme parks are reopening on Monday. Thorpe Park in Surrey opens at 10am, and at the time of publishing had tickets for sale priced at £39. Guests are also offered the opportunity to stay overnight at Thorpe Shark Cabins, the resort’s self-contained accommodation.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Chessington World of Adventures, Legoland Windsor and Alton Towers in Staffordshire are also reopening on Monday.
An Alton Towers spokesperson said: “We have hygiene and safety measures in place throughout the resort including temperature checks on arrival, enhanced cleaning, one-way systems, and social distancing markers in our ride queues, shops, restaurants and more.”
Throughout lockdown, people have been able to see the giraffes at London zoo – they can be seen from Regent’s Park. But from Monday, people will be allowed back in to visit all the animals at zoos and safari parks across the country. Tickets to London zoo and Whipsnade zoo, in Bedfordshire, are both available online.
Mark Godwin, the head zookeeper at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens in Oxfordshire, said some of the animals were as excited as the public about the reopening. “It’s a bit like when that volcano erupted in Iceland and suddenly there were no planes in the sky. When they came back, the meerkats were a bit jumpy. But they got used to it again,” he told Sky News.
Dora, a baby rhino calf born last July, is expected to be the park’s most popular attraction when it reopens on Monday. “She loves the attention and she loves to play,” said Godwin. “Dora will be the star of the show when people come back here.”
As well as non-essential shops, gyms and leisure centres, pubs and restaurants will reopen to serve people outdoors for the first time since early January. Many restaurant tables were booked soon after they were listed online, but some have reserved space for walk-ins.
At the time of writing, Monday lunch bookings were still available at the modern European restaurant 14 Hills in central London. The restaurant, which is normally on the 14th floor of 120 Fenchurch Street, has taken over the building’s rooftop garden on the 15th floor, with views over London. The menu features Colchester crab cocktail with iceberg lettuce and pickled cucumber; baby monkfish tail with prosciutto, green asparagus and beurre blanc; and spring salad with butter lettuce, Norfolk asparagus, samphire, nasturtiums and pea shoots.
Aveika, a Japanese restaurant on the Quayside in Newcastle, had tables available for a late lunch after 2pm on Monday. Diners can gorge on a sushi platter of salmon and tuna nigiri with chicken katsu for £30.