Health & Fitness People share photos showing themselves hugging family and friends
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People have been sharing photos and videos of the moment they were finally allowed to officially embrace again today, after the Government lifted social distancing rules that have effectively outlawed hugging for the last 14 months.
Sweet reunions captured and shared across social media included tearful grandparents finally getting a squeeze from much-missed grandchildren and friends back in each others' arms for the first time since March 2020.
May 17th has been dubbed Happy Hug Day in England after social distancing measures that have banned physical contact between family and friends - outside of bubbles - were relaxed in the the latest phase of's roadmap out of .
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Some scientists have urged caution though, suggesting that embracing loved ones again is still a 'high risk activity'.
Early morning swimmers in Sunderland were among the first to take advantage of the easing, greeting each other on sun-lit Seaburn beach with a dawn embrace.
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Dawn lives alone and has been shielding. Now she's had her first hug in 14 months ????????
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It's part of the latest lockdown easing:— BBC Radio York (@BBCYork)
Elsewhere, among the images being posted under the hashtag #firsthug and #happyhugday was a touching photo of a young girl offering a hug to her grandfather.
Posting the family snap, @SeanC_Mayo said the moment was a sign that 'normality' was finally returning to life as the pandemic's grip loosens in the UK.
Two youngsters from Hamilton, Scotland enjoyed a cuddle at the door of their nursery as Nicola Sturgeon also relaxed restrictions north of the border. @jojofalconer shared the adorable image, captioning it: 'The day where hugs are a thing'.
At the Sunrise of Bagshot care home in Surrey, great-grandmother Pat Tinner, 79, was pictured enjoying chats with granddaughter Kimberley Skelton and her great-granddaughter Mya for the first time in over a year.
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Pat Tinner last saw 18-month-old Mya shortly before moving into the home in March 2020, just weeks before a national lockdown was imposed.
Today, Mrs Tinner, who has Parkinson's disease, met the toddler again at the Surrey-based home.
Introducing herself as 'great nanny Pat', Mrs Tinner quickly bonded with Mya, who was just a baby when they last met around Christmas time 2019.
Anna Chioariu, general manager at the Sunrise of Bagshot, said: 'This is the first time residents have been able to hold and play with their great-grandchildren.
'Knowing that for almost a year they have been isolating in the care home with very limited visits from relatives and friends, this is major for them in terms of their mental wellbeing.
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'We have seen how isolation affects their wellbeing during the pandemic.'
Mrs Tinner said the latest lockdown had been a 'bit traumatic', but added she had been 'looking forward' to seeing Mya.
Mrs Tinner's granddaughter and Mya's mother, Kimberley Skelton, 29, said: 'It's lovely to see her again. It's really nice.
'I can't believe it's been that long. In normal time she would have built up more of a relationship with her and she would have seen lots more of Pat.'
Television presenter Jeremy Vine celebrated turning 56 on his Channel 5 news show today by receiving a long-awaited embrace from his mother, Diana Tillett.
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The presenter's mum, who was sat in the studio audience for this morning's show, walked on to the studio floor carrying a birthday gift for her son.
The BBC Radio 2 presenter told her: 'I resisted giving you a hug when I saw you arrive during the adverts.'
The tearful pair then enjoyed a lengthy embrace, with Vine saying: 'I'm going to cry now', to which his mum replied 'I love you Jeremy'.
Two weeks ago, the Government said advice 'on social distancing between friends and family' would be updated on May 17, and despite fears that the Indian variant would scupper people being allowed to embrace, the hug ban has been lifted as planned.
Another Twitter user posted a photo of herself hugging her mother this morning. Katie Taylor, who runs the The Latte Lounge, captioned the image: '14 long months later & we can #hug our friends & family. I think this picture says it all.'
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She added: 'I was sobbing uncontrollably as Ithrew my arms around my mum (we have both been doubly vaccinated) - I can't tell you how good it felt - i will never, ever take #hugging for granted again.
On ITV's Lorraine this morning, viewers were reduced to tears after a grandmother got to hug her family for the first time in 17 months.
Jennie Grimes, a grandmother-of-11 from Cambridgeshire, was surprised by her daughter Kerry, who drove 200 miles so that Jennie could hug her granddaughters.
The family was kept apart for 17 months due to covid-19 restrictions, with carer Jennie unable to meet her granddaughter Savannah, who was born during lockdown last year or to see Kerry's other daughters Sophie and Sienna.
There were memes galore being shared on social media too, with one Tweeter asking people to 'form an orderly queue for hugs'.
@MaichCaroline added: 'Right, who wants one?'
Despite the jubliation of hugs being given the green light, there was also caution today as some of Boris Johnson's top scientists today warned against socialising indoors and said hugging friends was still a 'high risk activity', with the Indian variant of the virus on the rise.
Last night thousands of people queued across the UK to enjoy a drink with friends inside pubs and bars after midnight, while this morning around 20 flights took off for Portugal as holidays became legal again and people enjoyed a pint and a meal inside for the first time in almost six months. Theatres, cinemas and museums can also open their doors again this morning.
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