On Monday, Boris Johnson set out how the country can return to normality following the coronavirus pandemic, including setting out dates for schools to return, shops to reopen and hospitality to return.
Schools are set to reopen on March 8, then followed by outdoor sports resuming on March 29, in the first step.
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In the second stage, on April 12, all retail, personal care premises, indoor leisure, libraries and community centres, and outdoor hospitality and attractions, will reopen, providing strict conditions have been met.
Two further steps, on May 17 and then June 21, will see restrictions relaxed further, firstly allowing groups of 30 to meet outdoors, then allowing gatherings and large events to be held.
Among the businesses celebrating the news are hair salons, that have been particularly affected by closures in lockdown.
Tony Wood, who runs Tony Wood Hair and The Barbership, in Southsea, said: ‘We are delighted to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
‘As a team we have all been chatting about how exciting it will be to finally get back in and do what we love. We have really missed the banter with our clients and members too, who have been amazingly supporting through these lockdowns. And with spring around the corner, we are all feeling really optimistic.’
Kate Preston, who runs Kate Preston Salons in Fareham, also said they were delighted to see a date set.
She said: ‘We are all really excited to have a date to work towards and can’t wait to see our clients again.
‘We can now plan for the spring, summer, new cuts and colour creations. And we have some exciting new products and service to launch. We can’t wait.'
Elle Field, owner of Elle’s Salon in Bedhampton, echoed their views.
She said: ‘I’m so excited to have a date in the diary ready for the reopening of salons. I really hope this is the last lockdown.
‘I’m looking forward to catching up with all of my clients as it’s been such a long time, but mostly I’m looking forward to getting back to what I love doing and steering the salon in the right direction for the future.’
For Karen Hall, who runs clothes shop Karen George in Emsworth, it's frustrating but sensible.
She said: ‘It’s another relatively long wait before I can open the shop doors again. Frustrating, yes, but at the end of the day, it has to be safety first.
‘I think dolly steps are sensible, although my sympathy lies with all those businesses that have to wait until the final step in June - so it’s heads down, keep focused – hands, face, space and let hope we can all safely get there on the dates planned.’
Also excitedly planning a reopening is Alex Dutton, who opened Party & Print in Fratton last November.
His business makes bespoke T-shirts and print designs, after he had to put his entertainment business on hold due to the pandemic. He hopes to see events return.
He said: ‘As a small business I am over the moon with the announcement, it’s cautious but optimistic. The fact the end seems truly in sight for all industries to come back is truly fantastic news.
‘It will be a great day when we can actually open the shop to the public for the very first time and it will be an even better day when after 15 months of not earning that Portsmouth party DJ can go back to work.
‘Just seeing the excitement online following the announcements from DJs like myself around Hampshire who work in nightclubs and the customers who go there who can’t wait to get back into venues is fantastic.'