Brits fuelled by the joy of drinking a pint inside a cosy pub are predicted to go on an £800million spending spree.
Tomorrow around 45,000 boozers will open up to indoor customers for the first time since December.
And staff will pull an estimated three million pints by last orders.
Some 2,000 pubs – 5% of the UK total – will be shut until final restrictions lift on June 21, as they are too small to serve safely.
But with most open and restaurants back in business too, customers are expected to go large.
Pablo Shah of the Centre for Economics and Business Research said: “The reopening is a key milestone for recovery, with spending forecast to rise more than £800million per week.”
It comes despite cases of the Indian B.1.617.2 variant more than doubling in the past week across the UK.
Experts fear it may lead to a third wave and up to 1,000 deaths a day.
Leaked Public Health England documents indicate 48 more clusters of the Indian variant in the UK.
To stem its spread, the gap between first and second jabs is being cut from 12 to eight weeks for over-50s and those in ill health.
More than 600,000 appointments were booked in the 48 hours after vaccination was opened up to those in their late thirties on Thursday.
More than two thirds of people 50 and over have now had second doses and three quarters of those aged 40 to 49 have received their first.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “This is the result of the sheer hard work of nurses, doctors and countless staff supported by brilliant volunteers.”
As if signalling the return of boozy Saturday nights, 21,000 spectators flocked to the FA Cup final last night.
Fans sang and sank pints on Wembley Way ahead of Leicester’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea.
Reopening is like winning a trophy after a gruelling season for publicans Samantha and Mick Griffin, who have been waiting since September to pour their first pint.
The couple ploughed £50,000 into revamping The Cottage Inn in Kenilworth, Warks after taking it over, only to be scuppered by lockdowns.
They had hoped to open last year and hired a chef from Bahrain. Now, eight months after taking on the tenancy, they can finally serve.
Mick, 58, said: “At times it has felt like we will never open, we’ve been kicked in the teeth a few times.
“We’ve spent so much doing the place up and not even poured a pint.”
B&Bs, theatres and museums will also reopen, weddings can have up to 30 guests, limits on funeral mourners will end, and indoor gatherings of up to six people or two households will be allowed.
Bournemouth’s Truly’s restaurant reports it is fully booked.
And Lauren Reading, who took it over 14 months before Covid arrived, said: “It’s exciting – we can’t wait to see our lovely customers again.”
But she added: “It’s been so long since we’ve been open, I forgot how to work the till!”
Pub landlords meanwhile are toasting reopening in novel ways. Rich Moore bought an old fire engine on eBay for £5,000.
With a 65in TV on its side, it has pride of place in the garden of The Barge in Long Eaton, Derbys.
Rich said: “I was going to convert it into a mobile bar but I wouldn’t... get a licence. The blue flashing lights and sirens still work, which will be good for sounding last orders.”
Heineken says it will boost annual output by 525 million pints to meet expected demand.
But Greene King boss Nick Mackenzie says most of its 2,500 pubs will only just break even and James Calder of the Society of Independent Brewers warned some pubs could still go under.
He said: “We need them to be fully reopened without any restrictions from June 21.”