“My mum and I cried for a long time and it just felt really strange”, said Kath Paddison.

The mother of two, from Stockport, hasn’t properly seen her parents since February 2020 because they live in Oxfordshire.

But on Monday, Kath and her mum, like millions of families across the UK, were given the greenlight to cuddle loved ones again.

The rule change allowing hugs came into force as restrictions were eased under Step 3 of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Kath said: “It was very very emotional. My mum and I cried for a long time and it just felt really strange.”

The 44-year-old said the family all did lateral flow tests to make sure that it was safe for them to hug as she didn’t want to put her parents at risk.

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“I couldn’t wait to hug them, but you still feel anxious because you think 'I will never forgive myself if I pass anything on',” she said.

Emma Jackson is among those in Manchester who are looking forward to cuddling their loved ones as the rules change.

Emma, who is a mother of two, said that although she is not a hugger, she will never take her mother’s hugs for granted ever again.

She said: “I have missed my family so much, even just being sat in the same room as them and laughing is what I miss most.

"But I have missed hugging my mum more than anyone.

"I think that everyone needs a mum hug as it just hits differently.

Community champion Dena Murphy hugged her daughter Bonnie and granddaughter Jayne on Monday.

“This pandemic has made me realise how much I have missed her warm hugs; it’s been really emotional.”

Emma also found it hard when her two children asked why they couldn’t see their grandparents.

She said: “It has been extremely difficult especially having children. I have two little boys and trying to explain to them that we cannot go to grandma’s house or nana’s house was too much.

“Kids don’t understand what’s happening. I’m really grateful that my parents will no longer miss out on those special moments with their grandchildren.”

Ruby Nicholls is also really excited to hug her nan after a year of social distancing from her.

The 21-year-old said she can’t wait to cuddle her nan now that restrictions have eased further.

She said: “I feel so excited and almost relieved that we are able to hug people again.

"Hugging is definitely something that I took for granted before the pandemic.

“I especially can’t wait to hug my nan as we’ve always been close and not being able to hug has been upsetting for us both.”

Ruby said she understands why the restrictions have been in place for the last year, but she is glad they have eased.

She said: “Of course the priority for the last year is keeping everyone safe, particularly vulnerable people, and I’m so glad that those rules have been in place.

“But I understand that everyone is a bit fed up now so I’m sure the relaxing of these rules will be great for people's well-being and mental health.”