Excited clubbers stood in the rain and wind last night to enjoy their first Saturday night out on the town since Freedom Day.
Throngs of revellers lined up for hours dressed to the nines outside popular nightspots all over the country to take advantage of Covid restrictions lifting.
Crowds of young people waited with enthusiasm, despite the heatwave ending and bringing downpours and gales around the UK instead, to enjoy dancing the night away for the first weekend in months.
The Astoria nightclub in Portsmouth, Hampshire had over 2,000 party people waiting for the doors to open, with punters queueing from 9pm to get in as soon as possible so they could make the most of the night, which finished at 3am.
In the first two days of opening this week, customers at the club consumed 1.5 tonnes of Red Bull and in just six day of opening, 15,000 cans of the energy drink were drunk, 2156 bottles of vodka and 10,742 pints.
Every staff member was given a Covid PCR test before their shift, plus the venue also had the most Test and Trace app check-ins in the country, with the exception of concerts and sporting events this week.
Mr Miyagi’s bar, which is part of the Astoria complex, is holding a pop-up vaccination clinic on Thursday’s for people to receive their first or second dose of the vaccine. They held their first one this week with scores of people taking the opportunity to get vaccinated – a necessity if they want to go clubbing from September onwards.
“Having had over 14000 through our doors so far this week, we’re overwhelmed by the support of our customers,” said Alistair Ritchie, owner of the Astoria.
“This week has so far been surreal for us, we never expected to be so busy. COVID is very much at the forefront of our minds, a few of our 120 staff are isolating, whilst all other staff still working with having a test before their shifts on a nightly basis.
“We’re also grateful for Solent NHS who came to our bar “Mr Miyagi’s” on Thursday and set up a walk-in vaccination centre. The statistics this week are mind-blowing, extra deliveries have been arranged by our suppliers who have managed to keep us stocked up throughout.
“The authorities have informed us that The Astoria Nightclub and Mr Miyagi’s bar have been the busiest on the south coast. It’s nice to be back open!’
The doorway to Heaven nightclub in London, was heaving with revellers too, who couldn’t wait to get inside now that the remaining Coronavirus lockdown measures across England have been lifted.
Most nightclubs have remained shut since the pandemic first hit in March last year, with the businesses struggling to operate at all under the Covid measures.
But, despite cases spiking, the prime minister pushed ahead with so-called ‘Freedom Day’ for England on Monday, with most restrictions gone and an emphasis placed on personal responsibility to stop the spread of the virus.
Epidemiologists are skeptical that lifting restrictions is the correct thing to do, but a lot of young people are fed up of more than 16 months of lockdowns, and want to enjoy themselves – good news for England’s 12,000 nightclubs, including Pryzm in Leeds, a large two-roomed club playing house, R’n’B and party anthems from Thursday to Sunday each week.
At Bar Fibre in Leeds, owner Terry George said the atmosphere inside since Freedom Day had been “like a New Year’s Eve type affair”.
“Finally, we’re going to be able to dance,” he added. “That’s the biggest thing, which is kind of a little bit sad really, because we’re given back something that’s our given right, to be able to dance in a bar, in a club.
“It should’ve been something that was there much earlier than this.”
In Manchester, clubbers carried one another through the streets as they made their way home after hours of dancing, walking hand in hand, some with no shoes on, to relieve the pain of their aching feet.
Groups of hen and stag parties were also spotted out on the town in the city.
The first post-Freedom Day Saturday night out came as NHS England figures revealed that one in three 18-to-29 year olds have still not had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
There has been a slower than expected uptake despite the virus numbers soaring among this age group, with more than one in 100 people aged 20 to 29 testing positive last week.
Although all over-18s have been eligible for the double jab since June 18, around three million young adults in the UK still remain unvaccinated.