Beauty therapists wasted little time ushering in the easing of lockdown restrictions across England as long-awaited hair and beauty treatments began when the clock struck twelve.
Monday marks the first time salons and hairdressers are able to treat customers since the third national lockdown was legally imposed in England on January 6.
Pub gardens and restaurants are now also allowed to welcome customers, along with indoor gyms, swimming pools and shops deemed non-essential.
One of the beauty companies delivering midnight services was Secret Spa, which offers at-home salon and spa treatments at home across London, Manchester and Brighton.
At the stroke of midnight, co-owner Emily Ewart-Perks, alongside hair stylist Nas Ganev and tan artist Magdelaine Gibson, visited a home in Balham, south London to offer their long-awaited services to clients Amy Pallister and Isabella Robinson.
“It’s so amazing. It’s just been such a long time coming,” Ms Ewart-Perks said.
“I know that our therapists are just so happy to be working with clients again.
“Everyone has really missed the social contact of the day-to-day job and making clients happy. We haven’t been able to do that for the best part of five-to-six months.”
For Ms Ewart-Perks, the reopening announcement was initially met with a measure of apprehension.
She said: “When Boris (Johnson) made the announcement that close contact beauty therapy could go ahead, I think a lot of people had been waiting for the news, just to be 100% sure, because the last reopening from lockdown we were given dates and then the dates were delayed.
“It was kind of staggered. It was hair first, then treatments to the body, and we had to wait ages for treatments to the face. So we had to do a lot of cancelling and moving appointments on that lockdown reopening.
“So I think people were very nervous (this time around), and when it was confirmed we just saw a surge of bookings.”
It was that surge in demand which prompted Ms Ewart-Perks to offer midnight services.
“We realised we had quite a few regular clients who we weren’t able to book in on the first day back, so we thought ‘why don’t we open the first moment we can?’
“And then we’re filling a lot of people in at dawn – a lot of 6am haircuts. Which is amazing, because people are going to have their hair cut and blowdried and then they can get on a Zoom call.
“The first day back is going to be double our best-ever day to date. I can’t believe we’re here.”
Ms Pallister, who received the first hair cut of the day, said the return of beauty services could not have come sooner.
“(The haircut) feels amazing, I can’t stop touching it,” she said.
“(It’s been) about seven or eight months, since my last one, so I had some very split ends.
“I’m very impatient, so I didn’t want to wait. (I booked it) as soon as they could fit me in.”
With her hair now in order, Ms Pallister said her personal celebration of lockdown easing has only just begun.
She said: “A bit of self-care and pampering definitely makes you feel better, so I’m really looking forward to getting back into the pub gardens and feeling a bit more like myself, rather than being cooped up indoors.
“I’ve got an excuse to get my nails done and put my makeup on and just enjoy life a bit more now.
“I’m also hoping my new haircut will get me a date. I’ve been single for a long time now, so I reckon it’ll help.”