THERE were dramatic scenes across the North East as nightclubs reopened for the first time since restrictions began.

Huge queues formed outside nightclubs in Newcastle as they waited for 'Freedom Day' to arrive - with the easing of almost all restrictions on July 19.

Outside clubs including Powerhouse and Grey's Club in the city centre, almost mile-long queues formed as restrictions on social distancing were officially relaxed.

It comes as almost all lockdown restrictions imposed, along with mandatory use of face coverings, in January have now been eased.

Read more: Freedom Day: The changes to the Covid rules coming into force from TODAY

It will now be up to shops, business owners and transport operators to enforce their own rules on face coverings, while some nightclubs may as for proof of vaccination.

On Monday, passers-by saw large crowds begin to form in the hours leading up to midnight as revellers tried to secure their spot.

See the scenes here:

The Northern Echo:

Grey Street was alive with activity and buzzing queues Picture: NORTH NEWS

The Northern Echo:

The scene as revellers waited to get into the Grey's Club Picture: NORTH NEWS

The Northern Echo:

Huge queues formed right up until the early hours Picture: NORTH NEWS

The easing of almost all restrictions will now see all legal limits on social contact removed, indoors and outdoors - and all businesses allowed to reopen for the first time since March 2020.

But the Government is recommending that businesses use “certification” as a basis of entry to venues deemed “high risk”, especially when prevalence of coronavirus is high as it is currently.

The Northern Echo:

Inside, masks were off as restrictions were lifted Picture: NORTH NEWS

The Northern Echo:

This was the scene at the Powerhouse in Newcastle Picture: NORTH NEWS

The Northern Echo:

The scene at the Powerhouse nightclub in Newcastle Picture: NORTH NEWS

The Northern Echo:

The scene at the Powerhouse nightclub in Newcastle Picture: NORTH NEWS

The Northern Echo:

The first time in months, club bars were alive with activity Picture: NORTH NEWS

Earlier this month, leaders across the North East have said it is time to "learn to live safely with Covid" as he urged caution as rules are relaxed.

The region’s council leaders issued a joint statement urging people to continue to act responsibly to themselves, and others, safe.

Council leaders representing County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland as well as Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor, North Tyneside Council, Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor  and Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner made the statement.

Read more: North East leaders warn: ‘It's time to live with Covid-19 safely’

They said: “We must remember that the virus continues to spread rapidly and we all have a responsibility to carry on doing our bit to protect those around us.

“The time has come for us to learn to live safely with Covid and make sure that we continue to do everything we can to support those in our communities who still feel vulnerable.

“While cases are rising rapidly, hospital admissions are very low, as thankfully are deaths.

“However pressure on public services is building, with key workers having to self-isolate either as cases, close contacts or parents/carers of isolating children.”

The statement said increasing vaccination coverage is the most important step now.

They said: “Soon, those who have received both doses of a vaccine will no longer have to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive case of the virus.

“We know vaccines are effective in reducing our chances of becoming seriously ill, and there are signs they help reduce the rate of infection.

“Soon, they will also prevent you having to enter difficult periods of isolation in certain circumstances.

“We all have a role to play when it comes to protecting ourselves, our loved ones, and those we come into contact with.

“There will be personal choices we must all now make but good hand hygiene, meeting in well ventilated areas where possible and wearing a face covering where appropriate will not just help to protect yourself, but you also help others."


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