THE region's pubs, hairdressers, barbers and restaurants opened yesterday morning for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown, people enjoyed their first pint in a pub and a haircut after three months in what has been dubbed, Super Saturday.

Northumbria Police welcomed the reopening of businesses across the force area – and asked the public to continue to behave responsibly.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: "For months many of us have longed to catch up with friends and family over a few drinks at our favourite pubs and bars - a goal signalling a return to normality.

“But we're not returning to normality just yet, far from it. Social distancing is still very much at play and from this weekend we need to work together to create a new 'normal' for going out, one that is considerate of others and works to keep everyone safe.

"I'm pleased to support local businesses who are able to reopen and am grateful of those who are choosing to bide their time, either to make their venues safer or to open when things have calmed and restrictions have eased further - putting less pressure on services like our police."

Wetherspoons spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We are looking forward to opening up our pubs once more and welcoming back customers.

“Our pubs will be safe for customers and staff alike.”

  • A big increase in job centre staff will be announced in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to say the number of work coaches will double from 13,500 to 27,000 in a bid to try to help jobseekers back into employment.

The move will cost some £800 million and comes amid predictions of a major recession in the aftermath of the pandemic as GDP has taken a severe hit during the lockdown. Meanwhile, the Observer reports the Treasury is "considering" plans drawn up by the Resolution Foundation think tank to give all adults £500 and children £250 in vouchers to spend in sectors of the economy hit hardest by the coronavirus.

The Chancellor is set to outline policies aimed at dealing with Britain's recovery from the outbreak on Wednesday. The Treasury insists that work coaches act as "expert mentors" and have a "proven" record to help jobseekers and benefit claimants into work quicker.

The move comes as job centres are to see more face-to-face meetings with people seeking work from Monday as lockdown restrictions are eased. As part of the first wave of the nationwide recruitment drive, an extra 4,500 coaches will be in position by October, with more to follow later in the year.

The Government has set up a team of senior policy advisers from the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions to oversee the Government's plans to support jobs. A Treasury spokesperson said: "The longer someone is out of work, the harder it is to return. Doubling the number of work coaches will ensure those in need are given immediate support to get back on their feet and into a job.

"Work coaches will use their expert advice to support claimants to make the most of their skills and put them in the best possible position to reconnect with the local labour market. Evidence shows that high-quality, work-focused, one-to-one adviser support, significantly reduces jobseekers' barriers to work."

  • The NHS is celebrating its 72nd anniversary today after facing the most challenging year in its history. The occasion will be marked by a round of applause at 5pm to commemorate the efforts of all key workers and volunteers during the pandemic, which will be broadcast live.

A Spitfire with the message "Thank U NHS" painted on its underside will also fly over several NHS hospitals in the east of the country, finishing over Cambridge. More than 100,000 hospital inpatients have been treated for Covid-19 in the UK, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with many more who suffered with the virus at home.

Members of the armed forces constructed eight NHS Nightingale hospitals within weeks, which are all now being held on standby. The Government's latest figures showed that 44,131 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Thursday, and a candlelit vigil was also held on Saturday night to remember them.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said hospital workers have only been able to pull the country through the pandemic thanks to a "national mobilisation" of all key workers, from care assistants and supermarket shelf-stackers to transport workers. Speaking to the PA news agency outside St Thomas' Hospital in London, he said the NHS's anniversary is an opportunity to thank these key workers.

He said: "I think for NHS there will be a sense of relief, having coming through this huge first spike of coronavirus patients, but also people have been working incredibly hard. So there's a need to take a moment to reflect and recharge the batteries while at the same time doing all the other brilliant things that the health service does.

"This is a huge national effort and the NHS is hugely grateful for all the support it has received from all of the rest of the country." Sir Simon warned the NHS could have another "enormous job on our hands" if a second virus spike sweeps the UK at the same time as seasonal flu, and urged people to continue observing social distancing.

He said: "Going into autumn and winter, we are going to have to continue to be vigilant about the possible resurgence of coronavirus. Until such time as there is a vaccine, we know that it will be lurking across the world."

Katie Scott, an NHS speech and language therapist - who was deployed as an emergency Covid-19 nurse for five weeks at the height of the pandemic, turns 24 on the same day as the NHS's birthday. While celebrating by having a socially-distanced picnic with friends at a London park the day before, she said she felt proud to work for the NHS.

Miss Scott, from Burley-in-Wharfedale in Yorkshire, said: "We are lucky to have the NHS and often take it for granted. The working culture is both supportive and really puts patients first. This combination makes me feel proud to work for the NHS, particularly when I see first hand us making a difference to patients lives and supporting those who need our help."

Father of three James Jackson, a childminder by day and Sainsbury's assistant by night, has been volunteering as an NHS Volunteer Responder since the start of the pandemic. Mr Jackson, from Blackley in Manchester, said he signed up within 10 minutes of hearing about the NHS's plea for helpers.

Volunteers have carried out 450,000 tasks since the start of the pandemic according to The Royal Voluntary Service, and the 47-year-old said he has become a friend for vulnerable people.

He said: "I have spoken with some callers on numerous occasions. One woman is shielding with her husband, who has lots of health conditions. She was terribly worried, when I first rang her up, she said: 'what am I going to do, I've got no one to talk to, I'm looking after him and I've got so much pressure on me... who is going to look after me?' I told her not to worry because I'm here for her, and she got tearful on the phone, and said 'what would we do without people like you?'"

He added: "You are that bridge for people to speak to them and let them know they are not alone, so it's been really good."

Mr Jackson said his three children - aged two, three and 10 - have decorated their windows with NHS rainbows and he will be joining the anniversary applause.

  • Drunk people are unable to properly socially distance, the chairman of the Police Federation has said as pubs reopened in England for the first time since lockdown. John Apter said it was "crystal clear" revellers would not adhere to the one metre plus rule as restrictions were eased on Saturday.

Professor Chris Whitty said the pandemic "is a long way from gone" and urged the public to follow social-distancing rules as pubs and restaurants reopened. But images from London's Soho showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday.

Mr Apter, who was on shift in Southampton where he dealt with "naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks", said: "What was crystal clear is that drunk people can't/won't socially distance. It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope. I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted."

There was disorder in north Nottinghamshire too, where four people were arrested and several pubs decided to close after alcohol related anti-social behaviour. A major easing of lockdown measures in England saw pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas opening their doors again under modified social distancing regulations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Government experts urged people to stick to the rules to avoid creating a second wave of coronavirus. Speaking on Friday, Prof Whitty said: "None of us believe, and I'm sure nobody watching this believes, this is a risk-free next step. It is absolutely not, that is why we have to be really serious about it. There's no doubt these are environments whose principal job it is to bring people together, that's a great thing to do socially but it's also a great thing from the virus's point of view. Therefore, we do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs."

  • New quarantine exemptions will allow major sporting events, as well as TV and film productions, to go ahead this summer, the Government has said. Silverstone will be able to stage races in August, and the move gives the go-ahead for international cricket, Champions League and Europa League football, the PGA British Masters Championship and the World Snooker Championships to take place.

Meanwhile, fears the relaxing of lockdown in England could lead to the emergency services being as busy as New Year's Eve appear to not have been realised. Devon and Cornwall Police said they had received more than 1,000 reports over the so-called Super Saturday, most of which were "drink-related", while four people were arrested and several pubs decided to close after alcohol related anti-social behaviour in north Nottinghamshire.

In London, Soho attracted a number of people on Saturday evening as establishments opened for the first time in more than 100 days and the chief constable of West Midlands Police Dave Thompson said there was a "slow steady approach to the night time economy reopening in Birmingham". Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said selected international sporting events and major movie and television productions will get the green light despite the coronavirus outbreak.

The Culture Secretary spoke to Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise this week about how the exemption will allow production to resume on Mission Impossible 7 and 8. Also, significant darts, horse racing and other sporting events are expected to follow, ministers said.

The easing of rules will see some sports stars and their support teams, as well as international film and TV stars, directors and producers, exempt from quarantine, if they are essential to the event or production. Under the new rules, sporting authorities, event organisers and the screen industry will need to follow Government Covid-19 secure guidance and put in place "stringent protocols" to ensure that they have a minimal impact on public health.

Exempted individuals will have to live and work in controlled "bubbled" environments behind closed doors, according to the rules. Mr Dowden said: "I'm very pleased that we've agreed exemptions from border health measures for a limited number of athletes and events staff, which means the British summer of sport is back on.

"I am grateful to the sports governing bodies who have worked closely with us to put in place stringent protocols to ensure these events can go ahead safely. It will mean that fans of the British Grand Prix, international cricket and Champions League football can look forward to yet more sporting action on home soil - a further boost to our national recovery."

Government guidance will also be set out this week to allow small numbers of "essential cast and crew" to travel to the UK without having to quarantine for 14 days. It was revealed that the Culture Secretary spoke to Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise this week about how the exemption will allow production to resume on the Mission Impossible blockbusters which are shot at the Warner Bros Studios Leavesden in Hertfordshire.

Mr Dowden said: "Our creativity, expertise and highly successful tax reliefs for our screen industries means that we are an in demand location that in turn delivers a great return for our economy. We want the industry to bounce back and exempting small numbers of essential cast and crew from quarantine is part of our continued commitment to getting cameras rolling safely again.

"This is welcome news not just for film lovers but the thousands employed across the screen industries and the sectors it supports." The Government said the exemption applies to individuals coming into England specifically to work on film and television productions which qualify as British under one of the Government's cultural tests or official co-production treaties.

Any such individuals will be required to remain for 14 days within a "bubble" that includes only their place of accommodation and production location. A Government spokesperson said: "The measures for sporting events in England mean that Silverstone, in the year of the 70th anniversary of the British Grand Prix, will be able to stage races on August 2 and 9."