Friends Christine Walton, 75, and Jill Dimbleby, 85, hug for the first time.

Hugs and smiles: Photos of people in the Harborough district returning to pubs, cafes and restaurants as lockdown eases

Mail photographer Andrew Carpenter was out and about in town as people cautiously welcomed a small step back towards normality

Monday May 17 was a key date in many people's diary - the day they could finally hug someone and get a pint inside a pub (I will let you decide which one is more important!).

The mood of the nation is one of cautious optimism after many months of lockdowns during this pandemic.

But many took advantages of their new freedoms and enjoyed the moment.

Mail photographer Andrew Carpenter captured these scenes in Market Harborough today (Tuesday).

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