Non-essential retailers, hairdressers and restaurants with outdoor space reopened across England on Monday after almost 100 days of lockdown.
Long queues formed outside Primark shops in English cities such as Birmingham and outside JD Sports shop on Oxford Street in London, undeterred by the unseasonably cold weather.
Hairdressers and barbershops were busy from the early hours as people had their first professional trim in months.
"I'm so excited to see my clients: to see how they are and give them that feeling that they get from having had their hair done," said Maggie Grieve, who manages Beaucatcher hairdressers in north London.
"Today is going to feel like every hairdresser's birthday. The well-wishers have already come in: emails, texts, WhatsApps, even neighbours in the street wishing luck and joy. It feels great."
Indoor gyms, swimming pools, libraries and zoos have also been given the go-ahead to open their doors, as have self-catering domestic holidays, where bookings have soared.
Retailers have been lining up new spring and summer ranges, while bars and restaurants have been buying tents to host outdoor gatherings in a bid to make up for lost time and sales.
"Today is a major step forward in our road map to freedom," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. "I'm sure it will be a huge relief to those business owners who have been closed for so long."
Mr Johnson has said the government will be driven by data, not dates, in its reopening plan, with the next anticipated easing due on May 17.
All social restrictions are scheduled to be lifted on June 21.