Hugs are back as Hartlepool folk celebrate new freedoms
Friends and family hugged each other with joy to celebrate the latest lifting of lockdown restrictions.
People out in Hartlepool hailed it as “a beautiful day” as Monday, May 17, marked the day the Government said they could cuddle loved ones plus mix indoors and enjoy overnight stays in groups of up to six people or two households.
Hartfields retirement village resident Pat Edgar, 80, gave friend Pauline a hug while on a walk around Hartlepool Marina.
Pauline said: “This day has been in my mind for before it was planned.
"It’s a beautiful day, I’m so excited. It’s been very hard not seeing people.
"Everyone has had something to deal with [during the pandemic].”
Pat added: “It’s a celebration day. We’ve come out for a walk and we’re going to have a meal as well.”
Aside from pubs, cafes and restaurants welcoming back customers indoors, leisure venues such as cinemas, museums, theatres, art galleries and bingo halls can also now reopen.
Sisters Margaret Laycock and Chris Gallagher also had a hug while enjoying a cuppa in the Dunkirk Tea Room on Watchful Hartlepool, also on the marina.
Visitors are now allowed back on board the boat which rescued 900 Allied troops from the Dunkirk during the Second World War and is now a floating museum.
Pauline Field who runs the tea rooms and is in charge of fundraising for the boat, said: “We’re extremely pleased to be back open.
"The lockdown has impeded us and the work that can be done. Sometimes we had to turn people away because we didn’t have enough outdoor seating.
"People have been extremely kind and our regulars have still come.”
"It’s a lot better sitting inside. We have a different clientele to the rest of the businesses on the marina. We’re all volunteers so every penny goes back into the boat.
"Visitors will have a really warm welcome and lots to see and learn on board as well.”
They can get a full tour of the boat, which has been re-Christened to its wartime name, in return for a small donation.
Pauline Field’s partner, Graham Beesley, brought the ship, originally called MV Coronia, to Hartlepool for a full restoration in 2017.