TRADERS have been making their final preparations ahead of the easing of some lockdown restrictions today.
Many businesses are ready to spring back into action after Boris Johnson confirmed that the roadmap dates he had originally set out will remain unchanged.
From today, pubs and restaurants can open and serve customers with outdoor service only.
All non-essential shops can reopen, as well as hairdressers, nail salons, gyms and leisure centres.
Velvet, an independent women’s fashion store in Church Road, Hove, is preparing to welcome customers back through its doors.
Store manager Emma Draper said that lockdown has been “difficult”, but she is anticipating a strong summer after the business experienced its best Christmas sales in more than 20 years.
She told The Argus: “It’s good now that we’re getting really excited, and the team have been in training and getting things ready. We feel like this is it now.
“The team is really pumped and we’re excited because the stock we’ve got is fantastic and I think the appetite is really there.
“Everyone is bored of wearing their leggings and they just want to dress up. The shop is a destination and people spend one to two hours here browsing all of our lines.
“We’ve had really good engagement on social media and our customers have said they can’t wait to come back.”
Jennifer Left, landlady at the Hand in Hand in Upper St James’s Street, Brighton, has rented an outdoor space from a neighbouring business in order to open her pub today.
The pub will also offer takeaway beer through a hatch for customers wishing to grab a pint on the go.
After having “fun” delivering boxes of beer and cakes to customers on a butcher’s bike throughout lockdown, Jennifer said she is ready to serve in a more traditional way again.
She said: “I’ve been trying to get a booking system up and running. Last year, there was an element of always having to adapt as things kept changing.
“My head was spinning a bit but hopefully this time it doesn’t feel like unfamiliar territory.
“It’s nice to have the staff back and actually see people again. It feels strange that there’s going to be people at the pub again but I’m just excited to get a bit of normality back.”
Rockwater in Hove is opening its beachfront deck to the public on a walk-in basis from today.
Its Shacks By The Shore will also remain open for takeaway, but customers will have to wait a little longer to use the venue’s roof terrace, which is set to open on Saturday, May 1.
Luke Davis, Hove resident and founder of Rockwater said: “This last lockdown has been especially difficult for the nation, but finally, the opportunity to see friends and family in a responsible manner is just around the corner.
“To ensure the safety of ours guests, we will be exercising social distancing, as well as providing an app for guests to order their food and drink from, all with the aim of helping family and friends enjoy the most memorable experience, in the safest way possible.”
Mama Fit, a women’s-only gym and café in Burgess Hill, will welcome its first customers through the doors today.
Co-founder Eliot Rogers, 24 said he is thrilled to finally be able to open the gym.
He said: “We’re very much looking forward to it. It’s one of those things that will never be perfect, but it’s very nearly there.
“I think it will be a really good experience for everyone and we’re excited for everyone to actually experience the space.
“We’ve had really good feedback through our online sign-ups so we are pretty confident that by mid-May we will be doing well.”
The majority of the gym’s facilities will be open, however exercise classes will not be allowed until May 17.