DAN WOOTTON: Didn't it feel good hugging a total stranger last night?

DAN WOOTTON: Didn’t it feel good hugging a total stranger last night? Win or lose, Sunday is going to be England’s REAL Freedom Day – whether Boris likes it or not

Something beautiful happened in England last night.

Yes, at Wembley there was Kane’s penalty celebration, Mount handing his jersey to an overwhelmed young girl in the crowd, and Southgate overcoming those semi-final demons 25 years on.

But what took place on the streets up and down the country is even more special than the mind-blowing semi-final victory against Denmark that will go down in the annals of English sporting history.

Last night marked the moment the people took back control over the bed-wetting scientists and politicians who have become drunk on trying to restrict the true beauty of living a normal life.

But as Captain Kane took that penalty shot, there was finally nothing Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and their bevy of behavioural scientists still whipping up fear could do.

United in euphoria and well aware that the danger of this pandemic has been all but smashed thanks to our successful vaccine rollout, Englanders took off the shackles of a horrendous 16 months.

Win or lose in the final, Sunday is the REAL Freedom Day for England, writes DAN WOOTTON, adding: We are returning to life as normal, Boris, whether you want us to or not

What took place on the streets up and down the country (Trafalgar Square) is even more special than the mind-blowing semi-final victory against Denmark that will go down in the annals of English sporting history

Unleashed and unmuzzled, we gathered in our tens of thousands to celebrate football, England and being together again.

We hugged and kissed our friends and family, sure.

But, most importantly, we embraced strangers too.

It was a collective display of unity to say our fellow countrymen are not virus carrying vessels who provide an instant threat to our wellbeing, but rather fellow patriots who can enhance our way of life every day.

There wasn’t a mask in sight.

Didn’t it feel good to be acting like normal people again?

And it’s not over yet.

This weekend is going to jolt Britain out of its corona caution once and for all.

After Sunday, there’s no going back, whatever the small risk, because tens of millions have realised the joy of normal life again.

Win or lose in the final, Sunday is the REAL Freedom Day for England.

There’s a fiction in public life that our elected leaders are actually in charge of things.

More than 1500 fans go wild as they watch the game at the 4thefans park in Manchester last night

Not surprisingly it’s a fiction most politicians are anxious to reinforce; so they can blame the incumbents when things go wrong and revel in the appearance of power when it’s their turn in government.

In reality, even the most brutal dictators are at the mercy of the mob and unforeseen events and spend most of their time simply trying to stay one step ahead of the public posse.

If you think back to the beginning of the pandemic, most of the country that could afford to do so had already decided to get the hell out of Dodge, long before Boris ordered the official lockdown.

We didn’t need to be told that this strange new disease was going to cause havoc.

That’s why many in government have been waiting for the moment where ordinary Britons stood up against the controls inflicted on their lives.

And a lot of them have been puzzled it’s taken so long.

Well, that moment is now here.

And if he wants to look like he’s leading his people rather than following them it would make far more sense for Boris Johnson to read the mood of his people and adjust accordingly. There are three simple things his government must immediately do.

Kane celebrates with team mates after scoring their side’s second goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 semi as England’s men now head to their first major final since 1966

First, reduce the nonsensical capacity limit at Wembley, as government sources have been privately discussing.

If 90,000 fans are not able to pack into the great stadium on Sunday night, I will be incandescent with rage.

All the government run pilots at test events like the Brit Awards showed a minimal increase in Covid cases.

It’s an outside venue and far more people will be gathering on the streets in every major city in the country.

Wimbledon’s centre court is now operating at full capacity and Wembley Stadium for a historic Euros final featuring England must be granted the same right.

Second, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and every other hospitality venue in the country should be able to open all day and night on Sunday at full capacity.

The extended 11.15pm closing time for pubs is not good enough because the petty and pathetic Covid regulations like the rule of six and no singing remain in place until July 19.

For 24 hours, every single one of these rules must be dropped, given that’s what’s going to happen just one week later anyway.

Our amazing pubs are dying, thanks to a crippling 15 months of closures and restrictions.

Denying them the benefit of what will be the biggest day of sporting celebration in England in our lifetime is just downright cruel.

Thirdly they need to scrap the test and trace quarantine requirements for children and the double-vaccinated right now. Infections are going through the roof but with deaths and hospitalisations remaining low people just don’t seem to care anymore. That much was obvious last night.

If he doesn’t relax the rules people are just going to start voting with their feet by deleting the NHS app or simply ignoring the rules in a mass act of civil disobedience.

Matt Hancock – the biggest Covid hypocrite of them all – has much to answer for here.

The Euros was the centrepiece of the government’s ‘Great British Summer’, which Hancock gaslighted us with by talking about it all year before doing a final U-turn in the weeks before the June 21 deadline.

Boris should have ignored the Cabinet butt-groper and stuck to his guns.

But maybe in some ways it’s good that didn’t happen.

Because I’ve always believed the only path back to a normal life is for us to claim back our freedoms and civil liberties, regardless of the nanny state advice provided by the government.

I had the faith that Brits would make the right sacrifices when the virus was at the peak of its first wave – and we did.

But now, the opposite is true.

The longer we allow the government to control basic rights that belong to us, the more damage it does to the fabric of our great society.

There is no path out of this madness from SAGE. We know that this winter they want further local lockdowns, restrictions, mask mandates and social distancing.

So England’s Euros final is a moment to send one hell of a message.

We are returning to life as normal, Boris, whether you want us to or not.

And we’re going to have a heck of a lot of fun doing it these next three days.

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