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The Covid storm cloud that weighed heavily on 2021 – in pictures

Despite starting 2021 in a lockdown with concerns over the new Delta variant, it was the year everyone had high hopes for.

But the dark cloud of coronavirus has hung over Britain throughout the year, and many areas have ended with even more restrictions in place as the new variant of Omicron more infectious threatened the end of year celebrations.

The start of the new year was muted, people were once again urged to stay in their homes, and schools, shops and restaurants were closed.

It was a long, gloomy winter for the most part, with long spells of frost in many parts of the country adding to the gloom.

Many stores had Christmas displays in place until spring, after having to close abruptly in December at the start of the last lockdown Credit: Stefan Rousseau / AP
Routes usually crowded with commuters were quiet again as people returned to work from home Credit: Dominic Lipinski / AP

But unlike previous closures, it was hoped that the creation of a new vaccine and the rollout of the vaccine would provide a solution to the pandemic.

The rollout has expanded at a steady pace, with tens of thousands of people being bitten every day as vaccinators move up the list of most-at-risk groups first.

Boris Johnson said the vaccination campaign was the best way out of restrictions as he urged people to accept their jab offers Credit: Frank Augstein / AP

At the end of February, with millions of people now receiving their first dose, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the leaders of decentralized nations drew up plans and a approximate timeline for easing restrictions.

On March 8, all students returned to schools in England.

Face masks were required for some students when resuming in-person lessons Credit: Danny Lawson / PA

On April 12, restaurants and pubs were allowed to operate outdoors. People could finally get their hair cut, meet friends at a beer garden, or go shopping.

Two women get their hair washed, separated by screens, at the Terence Paul hair salon in Knutsford, Cheshire, as the salons reopen Credit: Martin Rickett / AP
Joy is etched on Nevaeah Peebles face as Hamleys toy store on Regent Street in London reopens Credit: Victoria Jones / AP
John Witts has a drink at the reopening of the Figure of Eight pub in Birmingham Credit: Jacob King / AP

From May 17, people were finally able to kiss again and meet inside homes, as indoor socialization and physical contact was allowed.

On the same day, cinemas, theaters and museums reopened, pubs and restaurants were able to operate indoors, and the ban on overseas vacations ended with the introduction of the traffic light system of restrictions. of travel.

Green light for travel to ‘green list’ destinations saw sun worshipers take flights immediately Credit: Gareth Fuller / PA

At the same time, the Delta variant of Covid-19 was spreading across the UK and quickly became the dominant strain.

On June 14, Boris Johnson was forced to postpone “Freedom Day” from June 21 – when all restrictions would be relaxed – to July 19 to allow even more young people to get vaccinated.

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street briefing it “makes sense to wait a little longer” amid Delta wave worries Credit: Jonathan Buckmaster / Daily Express / PA

On July 19, social distancing rules that had been in place for over a year were finally lifted.

Face masks were no longer mandatory in England – although it remained the case in other parts of the UK – limits on gatherings were gone and home guiding work ended.

Nightclub revelers couldn’t contain their glee as final restrictions were lifted Credit: Ioannis Alexopoulos / AP
It coincided with a heat wave for many, so people were able to enjoy their new freedoms under the scorching sun. Credit: Steve Parsons / AP

In late summer and fall, the number of cases in the UK skyrocketed due to the Delta variant, although hospital admissions and deaths were only a fraction of what they were before the vaccination rollout.

At the end of September, the UK started providing third booster shots, fearing that vaccine protection could wane for those who were injected earlier in the year.

Margaret Keenan, 91 – who was the first person in the world to be vaccinated – led the line for her recall Credit: Jacob King / AP

By mid-November, reminders were being offered to more and more people as health officials warned of the “bumpy” months ahead during the winter.

Leaders seemed confident that people could make the most of the lead up to Christmas and all the holiday season, with pantos, parties, big family reunions and all the things people missed last Christmas. .

But before the November release, the more transmissible Omicron variant appeared in South Africa. It quickly spread across the world and the UK government was forced to implement its Plan B to tackle the coronavirus.

Booster rollout has been ramped up with everyone urged to protect themselves ASAP and massive jab hubs have reopened Credit: Gareth Fuller / PA
As Christmas approached, people were urged to limit their socialization and test themselves regularly before meeting other people. Credit: Dominic Lipinski / AP

People have started to cancel rallies in the run-up to Christmas, over concerns about bringing the virus home to the family on the holidays.

Nevertheless, they were still allowed to spend Christmas Day with their friends and family as they planned.

But at the end of the year, many nightclubs had to close again in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Leaders from the UK’s four countries have suggested that 2022 could start with new restrictions to deal with Omicron’s dreaded “tidal wave”.