Beer-starved pub-goers described the return to the boozer as “being like a kid at Christmas” as England re-opened after lockdown.

Delighted punters queued for long-awaited pints as pub doors opened for the first time since December.

Work pals Peter Andrew, 56, and Clive Dodd, 64, beamed as they took their seats at the Dog and Bull in Croydon.

After sipping his first proper pint of the year, civil servant Peter said: “My god, that is refreshing.”

Delighted Clive said: “December 13 was the last ale we had. This is brilliant.

“We’ll be here until a few sundowns later, and they’ve sat us closest to the exit so we don’t have too far to fall out - or crawl out.

Trevor Deighton in Leeds enjoyed his first pint since lockdown began
Trevor Deighton in Leeds enjoyed his first pint since lockdown began

“It’s just great to see the lads again. It used to be every Friday and we haven’t seen each other since December.

“Honestly, this is like being a kid at Christmas.”

Mark Bridger, 54, could not wait to get his hands on a Thatcher’s Gold while pal Stephen Wells, 67, enjoyed a Fosters at the same pub.

“You can have a can at home but absolutely nothing compares to being with your mate at a pub,” said Mark.

“This is long overdue.”

Drinks are being delivered to tables under the new rules
Drinks are being delivered to tables under the new rules
Landlords Mark and Lesley Knight were getting back into the swing of things this afternoon
Landlords Mark and Lesley Knight were getting back into the swing of things this afternoon

Landlords Lesley Knight and husband Mark were hard at work as punters began to stream in.

“I’m getting back into this swing of it,” said Lesley.

“There’s lots to do and we need to make sure people know how to use the app - but people are just so happy to be here and out of lockdown, it’s brilliant to see.”

Meanwhile, eager shoppers queued in the snow desperate to get their first taste of retail for months.

Primark in Croydon opened its doors an hour early at 7am but that did not deter thrifty punters.

Jubilant consumerists couldn't wait to get back into the shops this morning
Jubilant consumerists couldn't wait to get back into the shops this morning
A bit of snow earlier in the snow wasn't enough to keep punters away
A bit of snow earlier in the snow wasn't enough to keep punters away

Ella Taslaman, 21, and her sister Sienna, 16, from nearby Coulsdon, set 5:30am alarms so they could be in the queue for 6.30am.

Emerging from the store with packed bags, Ella said: “It’s a bit embarrassing but we were in the queue at 6.30am.

“It wasn’t snowing at that point but it was cold. We’ve been in and bought loads of summer clothes and now it’s snowing!

“But it’s great to be out shopping again and seeing other people after so long. It was worth the early start.”

Triage nurse Nuran Osman, 27, finished her night shift at a nearby health centre at 6:30am and jumped straight in the queue.

A bit of retail therapy was in order after months of only being able to get the essentials
A bit of retail therapy was in order after months of only being able to get the essentials

She bought pyjamas and jeans, and said: “It’s brilliant to actually see some people and talk to strangers.

“It’s been so strange for so long so it’s lovely to get out.”

A queue formed at nearby JD Sport and customers piled in to escape the snow when the doors opened at 8am.

The Gym in Croydon had fitness fanatics queuing to get in for its 6am opening.

Maurice Powell, 18, said: “It’s great to be back in, I haven’t been for months and I couldn’t wait to get back.

Crowds flocked to Primark in Cambridge this morning
Crowds flocked to Primark in Cambridge this morning

“To be honest I think the best thing is just being able to get out of my house for a bit.”

Assistant manager Yeny Befreitas said: “It feels so good to be back.

“It’s brilliant to see the regulars, all the familiar faces, getting back into their routines.

“It’s so important for people’s mental health too. The weather ’s not great outside so people might have a few more weeks to get in their best shape before the sun comes out.”

Ben Rodin, 28, was one of the first customers to get his hair cut as Rush Hair and Beauty re-opened.

As he got his trim he told The Mirror: “To be honest it’s a great feeling to be getting this chopped off - it’s been so long!

“I booked in two weeks ago and only just managed to get a slot.”

Its editorial director Tina Farey said: “We’re completely fully booked all day, we’ve been fully booked for three weeks.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to be back. We’re people who like people and we missed our clients so much - so it’s great getting back doing what we love.

“I think the past year has made people realise how important places like this are.

“The social aspect is huge, we talk to our customers about everything - and that matters.

“I’ve been walking around seeing so many roots coming through and so we feel delighted to be back.”

Fruit and veg market store owner José Joseph has remained open in all weather.

“We’ve been here through rain, wind and snow, and we’re still standing,” he said.

“We wanted to make sure people didn’t forget us for when everything re-opened today.

“There’s a buzz around the market again and life feels like it might be getting back to normal.”