BRITS cheered and danced the night away as nightclubs finally flung open their doors from midnight to celebrate Freedom Day.
Freedom-hungry punters who had queued outside clubs for hours downed pints as they partied into the night.
Revellers counted down the seconds until they could finally hit the dance-floor – grinning wildly in colourful outfits as they got inside.
July 19 marks Freedom Day – the day where social distancing, working from home and compulsory face masks are scrapped.
The reopening of the country’s 12,000 nightclubs has been eagerly awaited by partygoers after dance-floors were shut more than a year and a half ago.
And by midnight, long queues had started to form outside venues with revellers keen to party away the memories of the past 18 months in lockdown.
Hundreds of thousands of Brits who turned 18 during the pandemic flocked to packed clubs to get their first taste of nightlife.
Meanwhile, veteran nightclub-goers grinned as they were finally able to swap the couch and pyjamas for dance-floors and glad rags.
Excited clubbers queued up for more than an hour outside EGG nightclub in North London ahead of its reopening at midnight.
Nightclubber Chloe Waite, 37, said: “It’s a bit like New Year isn’t it? It’s going to be a special night.
“Whether we’ll have more of these in the future, who can say, I wouldn’t like to speculate.
“For me this is something we’re going to remember for a long, long time and we might not get the opportunity for a while.”
Newcastle’s Powerhouse nightclub was one of several venues that hosted midnight “freedom” parties as restrictions ended, along with G-Bar in Liverpool and Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall’s South Shields nightclub, Industry.
Demand was so high for parties in the early hours some clubs were forced to make events ticketed – with many almost sold out before they opened.
Gabriel Wildsmith, 26, a video producer from London, said he had been waiting for an hour to get into EGG.
“I’m so excited I’ve been waiting for this for so long… basically since we locked down,” he said.
“I love going to clubs and I love meeting random people.You make great friends and you couldn’t do that until tonight.”
In Leeds, clubbers queued to enter Bar Fibre and partied at the stroke of midnight.
Bar owner Terry George said: “It feels so special. People are treating it like a very special occasion.
“Finally, we’re going to be able to dance. 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.”
Lorna Feeney, 44, of Leeds, said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic. That’s my life, my soul – I love dancing. It bonds me, it’s amazing, it makes me feel so good.
“It’s about listening to the music and really feeling it, having a dance and not having to worry about anything that’s going on – not sitting on your chair and getting fat.”
The one-metre-plus social distancing rule being scrapped is a huge boost for the hospitality industry.
There will be no limits on how many people can meet socially, or where they can meet.
Punters are finally be allowed to mingle and stand once again, while ordering from the bar is also permitted again.
It comes as a huge boost to the hospitality industry, which has struggled to make a profit with limited capacity allowed indoors due to social distancing regulations.
And Brits will no longer need to check in to venues by scanning a QR code using the Test and Trace app.
However, Boris Johnson has begged the public for a “cautious” end to lockdown tomorrow amid the “extremely contagious Delta variant.”
He said: “We’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there.
“Cases are rising, we can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant.