Locked-down Britons will soon be able to bask in wall-to-wall sunshine, with rising temperatures coinciding with the first taste of freedom in months.
Millions of people will be able to meet friends and family in gardens and parks from Monday as the ‘rule of six’ returns outdoors, with many taking to social media this week to share their preparations.
And sun worshippers will be able to start working on a spring tan over the coming days, with the mercury set to rise as high as 68F (20C) next week.
Before then, however, a cold front will sweep the UK, bringing heavy rain and even possibly hail and thunder to some areas of the country.
The north-west is the region most likely to be hit by blustery weather today, with scattered showers in the south, though eastern areas are likely to be pleasant.
Wind and rain will continue to fall into tonight and tomorrow in some areas, though Saturday is likely to be dry across most of Britain.
Temperatures will peak at a mild 55F (13C) over the weekend before a mini-heatwave is on the way from Monday, with thermometers hitting highs of 68F (20C).
Views of Gravesend Reach in Kent as dawn breaks above the early morning mists on the Thames estuary today
Britons enjoy a stroll and a jog through woodlands at Durlston Country Park in Dorset on the south coast this morning
Early morning swimmers take a dip in the water as glorious sunshine rises over Seaburn beach in Sunderland earlier today
How summer starts in April for Brits this year
More than three-quarters of Britons are marking April as the start of summer celebrations as lockdown begins to be eased, a poll has found.
Some 77 per cent of respondents said next month was now the start of summer, with most looking forward to lighter evenings (50 per cent), visiting beer gardens (41 per cent) and barbeques (39 per cent).
In astronomical terms this summer officially runs from June 21 to September 22, while meteorological summer is June 1 to August 31 every year.
The study by Scottish gin company Caorunn, in partnership with market research company Atomik, also found the drink Britons most closely associated with the warmer seasons is lager (32 per cent).
The upturn in weather comes ahead of the clocks springing forward to British Summer Time (BST) in the early hours of Sunday morning, and the first major easing of rules in the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The Government has said outdoor gatherings including in private gardens of either six people – known as ‘the rule of six’ – or two households will also be allowed from next Monday, making it easier for people to meet outside.
There is expectation of a very good week of weather, with the Met Office forecasting mild temperatures next week in southern England with high pressure building which will bring settled conditions for most areas.
The long-term outlook for April is also good, with the Met Office telling of a ‘reasonable signal for generally settled weather for most’ at the start of the month with ‘drier than average and brighter conditions prevailing’.
It comes ahead of the third stage of rules easing on April 12, which will include the reopening of pubs and restaurants outdoors, non-essential shops, public buildings and outdoor attractions including theme parks.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen from Monday, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
But up until then the rules remain – including for this weekend – that people can only meet one other person from outside their household or support bubble socially or for exercise, and this must be away from their home.
The ‘stay at home’ rule will also end next Monday, but the Government has advised that people continue to work from home where they can and ‘minimise the number of journeys they make where possible’. The advice from next Monday will be to ‘stay local’.
Britons are also still warned to avoid travelling at the busiest times and routes, while travel abroad will still be banned, other than for a small number of exceptions such as attending a funeral of a close family member.
The Government announced on Monday that anyone trying to leave the UK ‘without a reasonable excuse’ will be fined £5,000. Ministers have launched a taskforce to review global travel which will report on April 12.
This is also the date when hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen outdoors-only, along with outdoor attractions like theme parks. Indoor hospitality is not set to return until May 17 at the earliest.
Tips to Find Low Priced Luxury Holiday Package Deals Fast