People danced in the streets and groups erupted into spontaneous cheers, as a largely young crowd filled tables, most of which were reserved for Saturday and Sunday.
Pierre, who was celebrating his 21st birthday with friends, reserved a place a month ago.
“I’m so happy to be able to celebrate with my friends, I feel free,” he said.
Couple Joshua and Sophie were excited to go out for a meal for the first time in over four months.
“I spend time with my baby outside the house, we see the beautiful sun shining, we see wonderful faces, all of these people are enjoying their food, their miso soup, the energy is wonderful,” Joshua said .
Those who did not have a reservation lingered on the sidewalk, the crowds becoming dense at times. Restaurant owners say customer demand is unprecedented.
“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since we turned it back on, and for online reservations the majority of the time left was either early enough or late enough,” said Craig Gordon, owner of Home Restaurant. SW15 in Putney, South London which is full for the next four weeks.
“We took a pop-up site and we have 40 covers there,” he adds.
And it’s not just the hospitality – after months of do-it-yourself hairstyles, customers have flocked to Ismail’s Barbers in Kingston with a queue outside.
“It was crazy. We opened at midnight on Monday and have been flat ever since, ”says family business manager Zeshan Ismail. “Because of all the lockdown and the pandemic, I think it changed a lot of people, they wanted a whole new lifestyle, a new hairstyle,” Ismail adds.
But not all stores think it’s time to reopen. Banquet Records has a strong online business and will remain closed until all staff are offered a vaccine.
“Walking into a record store should be this great experience where you walk in for five minutes, but you actually stay for half an hour, you get lost in the moment, and in COVID hours you have to go in and out,” enter and leave. , as fast as you can, ”says Jon Tolley, manager of Banquet Records.
Scientists are still asking for caution because the virus and its variants are still circulating.
“I’m less concerned about reopening outdoor sites and more concerned about indoor sites where we know transmission is occurring, especially since the predominant mode of transmission is aerosol transmission,” says clinical epidemiologist Dr Deepti Gurdasani.
“So much more concerned about opening gyms, hairdressers and stores without adequate mitigation measures,” she says.
But on that spring weekend, there was palpable joy to find some of what the pandemic has taken away.