Words: Brian Lenord; Right picture: Party-goers celebrate 'Freedom Day' at G-A-Y last night (Right image: @Benjaminbutter; Left image: G-A-Y, Facebook)
London's G-A-Y celebrated 'Freedom Day' at one minute past midnight this morning - by morphing back into a nightclub to a soundtrack of Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande's 'Rain On Me'.
In footage circulating on social media, euphoric party-goers were heard screaming and cheering as the venue released balloons from the ceiling to mark the highly-anticipated moment that lockdown restrictions came to an end in England.
'Freedom Day' (19 July 2021) marks the end of almost all coronavirus restrictions in England since the first lockdown on 16 March 2020.
In an Instagram statement, G-A-Y boss Jeremy Joseph said: "Everyone has a different opinion on re-opening, some will be happy that normality is starting to come back, others will say its irresponsible, but all I can say, it how I'm feeling, I feel numb, confused & genuinely don't know what the right thing to do is anymore."
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"Please be cautious"
The change in rules affects all hospitality businesses that had been closed, with no capacity limits. Large-scale events such as music festivals can also return.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson - currently self-isolating after being deemed a close contact of Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week - has advised caution.
In a video message [below] released yesterday, he said: "Please, please, please be cautious. Go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present."
Like so many people I've been pinged by NHS Test and Trace as I have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, and I will be self-isolating until Monday 26th July. pic.twitter.com/X57gDpwDqe— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 18, 2021
Despite the packed scenes at G-A-Y, a new YouGov poll for The Times shows that just 31% of adults be going to parties with a lot of people in the next few weeks, while 53% said they would not.
Meanwhile, 34% said they would be happy to go to the theatre, but 48% would not.
The Attitude Body Issue is out now.