Thousands of customers have formed long snaking queues in searing heat to have the chance to shop inside an Ikea store for the first time since lockdown in March.

The furniture giant has reopened its doors at 19 sites, including the Greenwich store, this morning, June 1, with new msafety measures and customer limits in place to control social distancing.

And hundreds of customers were pictured queueing for hours to get inside south-east London's only Ikea store this morning, with many bringing fold-up chairs.

'Social distancing wardens' were seen managing the queue, which snaked around the car park.

Ikea Greenwich was not alone in attracting long queues, Belfast saw some of the largest lines, with queues running along the main road outside the store.

Prior to reopening, Ikea bosses said wardens will patrol stores to help shoppers and ensure they keep their distance from each other.

Families are banned, with the business saying it will only allow one adult and one child per household inside the store at any one point.

The 19 stores reopening are Croydon, Greenwich, Lakeside, Wembley, Tottenham, Norwich collection point, Birmingham, Nottingham, Belfast, Manchester, Warrington, Gateshead, Leeds, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Reading, Southampton, Bristol and Exeter.

Play areas and restaurants will stay shut, but Ikea insists its popular meatballs will be available in food courts to cook at home.

Since the pandemic and subsequent store closures, Ikea's car parks in Gateshead and Wembley have been turned into drive-through coronavirus testing sites.

Key workers were also allowed to shop in the in-store Swedish Food Markets after being tested.

Bosses had previously asked shoppers to "come prepared with ready-made lists and own bags" for the reopening.

Click and collect facilities are also opening in a phased approach and in line with Government guidelines, with Ikea saying this will depend on which UK region stores are in.

Extra hand sanitiser and more deep cleans of bags, trolleys, bathrooms, equipment and touchscreens will take place.

Cash will not be accepted, with all payments by card or contactless device only, and customers should avoid travelling to stores just to process refunds because Ikea says it has a 365-day returns policy.