Brits to enjoy freedom again with stay-at-home rule axed to allow groups of six, organised sports and weddings

MILLIONS will get a boost of bliss at the Joy of Six tomorrow — after three months of lockdown limbo.

Outdoor reunions with family and friends, plus the return of organised sport and weddings, will bring a huge rush of happiness, say experts.

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PM Boris Johnson will start the nation’s healing by lifting the stay-at-home guidance to allow groups of up to six, or two households, to meet outside in England.

A No 10 source said: “Today marks the first real freedom for so many people who haven’t seen their loved ones for months.”

Boris wants to kick off “a Great British summer of sport” — urging the public to get outdoors and take in vitamin D to boost immune systems against Covid.

Wellness expert Joshua Charles said everyone will benefit from a surge of endorphins today. He added: “This is going to refresh the nation and renew our love for fitness.

“This is the positivity we have all been missing, the feeling of being part of something and a sense of community we have been craving.

“There will be such a healing impact and positive change in mental health.”

Boris wished the best of luck to “the young and not so young people” returning to sports fields.

He said: “I know how hard it has been to be separated from your team-mates, your coaches and the sports that you love.

“I love sport — and I’m hopeless at it — but I can only imagine how excited you will be to be getting back out there.”

His call was echoed by England cricket captain Eoin Morgan, tennis ace Johanna Konta and rugby hero Kyle Sinckler who all urged people to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of sport.

Many sessions are sold out today — including swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses and even beach volleyball.

Sam Parish ran a rule-of-six, midnight fitness class lit by car headlights at Beachy Head, East Sussex, and said: “It sold out in five minutes. The nation needs to get fit so get out there and do it.”

Rowers were out at 6.30am. The Amateur FA, which represents eight million park footballers, said: “Our leagues are back on.”

And Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said “the doors were always open” if Uefa wants England to host more games in this summer’s Euros.

Up to 500,000 couples are racing to tie the knot as weddings with six attendees are allowed again.

Cafés and restaurants serving take-out food will share a £1billion spending lifeline.

M&S expects sausage and burger sales to double year-on-year as we go crazy for barbecues and picnics.

Tesco said: “Many will be cooking up a storm.”

Wine sales are up 57 per cent at Waitrose. Beer sales are also up.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief medic Chris Whitty urged people to remain cautious as cases rise in Europe and new variants emerge.

TV’s Dr Hilary Jones is narrating an ad campaign urging people to stay outdoors when meeting pals.

A new slogan: Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air will be beamed across the nation.

Mr Dowden was also confident that the first Moderna vaccines will be available from mid-April.

He guaranteed second doses of any vaccine for those that need it.

And he urged people to use “common sense” while travelling, but said: “There’s no reason for you to not to see Granny in the garden.”

But he admitted all restrictions may not be lifted by June 21 as hoped. He said the final steps could be pushed back if the third wave from Europe takes hold.

Jab experts said it was vital that vaccinated people did not think they were “invincible”.

Prof Anthony Harnden urged them to follow the rules, saying if we unlock slowly and people behave then “we’ve got a way out”.

Government scientist Mark Woolhouse added: “I’m a little nervous about a full relaxation in June. It will be important to continue to be guided by the data.”

  • SAVE The Street campaigners want Chancellor Rishi Sunak to launch a scheme offering 50 per cent off goods at independent retailers — up to £10. They suggest such a move could run for a month this summer with discounts available from Monday to Wednesday only.

24C bunk off

MILLIONS are ready to skive off work to celebrate today’s moment of freedom after 83 days of lockdown.

Firms are braced for mass sickies this week as staff ditch Covid shackles to meet friends and family in 24C sunshine.

As outdoor sport resumes, golf courses will be packed from 6am today while football pitches are booked up nationwide.

Today is expected to be the biggest day off since last June, when non- essential shops reopened after the first lockdown.

With temperatures of 20C today and 24C tomorrow, seven in ten will be tempted to call in sick to enjoy the sun, research showed.

Experts who deal with questions from staff and firms about absences have seen a near 50 per cent rise in queries relating to this week.

HR firm Law At Work, which monitors 150,000 employees at hundreds of companies, said: “We’ve had a 44 per cent increase in cases where we advise about absence.”

Pre-Easter week is already one of the most popular to book off — and many companies will be further hit by sickies.

The Federation of Small Businesses has warned: “Employees’ days off in hot weather can be a big problem.”

Bright HR boss Alan Price said: “If employers have enough to cope, it’s a good idea to let staff have it as holiday.”


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