LIVE: Shoppers queue outside Primark and Debenhams as lockdown eases and shops, bars, restaurants and gyms allowed to reopen

Pubs, shops, hairdressers, gyms and restaurants are reopening today in Sunderland as the country moves into the second step of the roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 3:18 pm

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged the nation to ‘behave responsibly’ as pub beer gardens reopen and restaurants are allowed to resume outdoor dining.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs with outdoor seating have been able to open this morning, with many heading out to enjoy their first pint in months.

Due to the third lockdown, many won’t have had their hair cut since 2020 so there will also be a rush back to hairdressers and barbers – one of the businesses also allowed to reopen today (Monday, April 12).

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Customers have returned to cafes and pubs with outdoor seating across Sunderland
Customers have returned to cafes and pubs with outdoor seating across Sunderland

Non-essential shops can reopen too and we’ll be bringing you the latest on what the city centre looks like on the first day back for businesses across the country.

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How The Bridges has prepared for 'extremely busy' April 12 lockdown easing

Scroll down for the latest updates from across the city.

Lockdown easing in Sunderland: Updates as non-essential shops, bars, gyms and hairdressers reopen

Last updated: Monday, 12 April, 2021, 10:41

  • Non essential shops, outdoor restaurants and bars, gyms and hairdressers are able to reopen for the first time since the third lockdown was imposed
  • April 12 marks the second stage of Boris Johnson’s roadmap to easing lockdown
  • We’re in Sunderland city centre bringing you the latest as queues already develop outside Primary
  • Busy scenes at Sunderland beer gardens as people head out in the sunny but chilly weather

Queue forms outside Primark ahead of reopening of Sunderland store at 8am

Keen shoppers are already queuing outside of Primark in the city centre on the first day non-essential stores have been allowed to reopen in more than three months.

What businesses can reopen?

Non-essential shops are reopening, alongside personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons and public buildings such as libraries and community centres.

Outdoor hospitality venues, such as beer gardens, are now also allowed to welcome customers back – but only with table service.

Most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) can also reopen.

Some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds can now go ahead, while indoor leisure and sports facilities are reopening for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble.

The long line outside Primark in the minutes before the shop opened its doors

Shoppers head into Primark as the first shops in Sunderland city centre begin to open their doors as restrictions continue to ease.

What is the weather like on the first day people can head to the shops or a beer garden in months?

Although it’s no April heatwave like we saw in 2020, forecasters say the city will remain sunny throughout the day - although it is bitterly cold!

It won’t rise above 6C in Sunderland on Monday, April 12, but that won’t stop people from enjoying their first pint in a beer garden in months!

Live from Sunderland city centre

‘It’s about having a chat with people and just doing something normal'

Eve Ord, from Grindon, was waiting for a haircut at JustCuts.

"I'm desperate," she said. "My last haircut was a week before lockdown."

The 77-year-old said she was pleased to see businesses reopening.

"It is about getting back to normal," she said. "It's about having a chat with people and just doing something normal. It's just nice to see the doors open again."

Where can you meet family and friends?

You can meet in a group of six or a larger group from up to two households outdoors, including private outdoor spaces, such as gardens, and other outdoor public places and venues that remain open.

You should maintain social distancing from anyone who is not in your household or support bubble.

Fancy a coffee? Here’s 18 Sunderland and Seaham cafes with outdoor seating you can use from April 12

It’s not just beer gardens which can open outdoor spaces from April 12, cafes will also be able to serve brews with a view.

Hairdressers delight at reopening after three months

Laura Gooch runs No IV Hair and Beauty in Derwent Street which reopens today.

"It's the best day of my life," she said.

"The buzz and the rush of being back at work is better than getting your presents from Santa. It's heaving today. I've got 15 booked in and we're still only allowed to have two people in the shop.

“We have to disinfect everything and sterilise the scissors between each customer."

Huge queue outside Debenhams for final closing down sale

Pictures show a huge queue has formed outside Debenhams which has opened for a final closing down sale.

It was confirmed in January that the 242-year-old Debenhams brand and website had been bought by online fashion retailer Boohoo for £55million.

Despite the department store giant’s name surviving, the company’s remaining 118 stores across the country, including Sunderland’s, will close for good – resulting in around 12,000 job losses.

Now, as non-essential retailers reopen due to easing lockdown restrictions, Debenhams will also open their doors to customers for a final sale – with up to 70% off fashion and home products and up to 50% off beauty and fragrance lines.

Waiting for a pint at the Cooper Rose

Mates Ian Tunstall, 71, and Vic Thirlwell, 66, from Hendon were waiting outside the Cooper Rose and looking forward to a pint of Carling.

"It's fantastic to be back," said Ian, "Just to see your mates again."

Vic added: "We would normally go to Jameson's but they have not got the space outside. I'm just looking forward to getting back to normal and we'll play it by ear today."

Among the queue for Debenhams....

Gillian Kirtley, 69, and 41-year-old Lisa Prescott got chatting in the queue for Debenhams on Monday morning (April 12).

While Gillian was after some make-up, Lisa was heading to the department store for some trousers for work. Both said they’d be sad to see the store go.

"It is going to be hard," said Gillian. "If we don't have a big store, I don't know what will happen to Sunderland."

Lisa thought the closure would be a real blow to the city centre: "Everybody already goes to Newcastle and the MetroCentre," she added.

Popular Stackyard pub triples its outdoor capacity ahead of April 12 reopening

One of the city’s most popular local pubs has tripled its outdoor capacity as it looks forward to an April 12 reopening.

Stackyard in West Herrington is among the many pubs utilising their space to cater for outdoor drinking and dining from Monday, April 12, in line with the Government’s roadmap for easing the country out of Lockdown.

Like all pubs, Stackyard, which was last year awarded a Travellers Choice Award by TripAdvisor, placing it in the exclusive club of the Top 10% of restaurants worldwide, has had an incredibly difficult 12 months due to the pandemic.

It’s been a year of ever-changing restrictions, adapting to food deliveries and, due to the North East being in the then Tier 3, not being able to open for sit-in custom since November 5.

Angela and niece Olivia spent £200 on their return to Primark

Angela Morse, 49, was shopping with niece Olivia Parkin, 26, in Sunderland city centre.

Angela said they had spent around £200 in Primark after heading to the store on the first day it has opened in more than three months.

"I loved it. I'm really happy - it's class," she said. " I got the bus down - I've not been on the bus for months.

"I'm off to River Island and New Look to see what they have got, then I'm getting my hair cut later.

"I can't wait.”

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