Traders in Dover are breathing a huge sigh of relief now that the end of lockdown is in sight.
From next Monday non-essential shops will be able to reopen along with pubs and restaurants serving outdoors as the coronavirus pandemic recedes.
John Angell, chairman of the business group Dover Town Team, said: “It’s going to be a great relief and it will be good to be back.
“But it will be hard work for traders having to prepare their premises for customers after being closed for so long.”
Mr Angell said his own business, John Angell Jewellers in Dover’s Biggin Street, had been closed for six months of the last year, for four months since December 19 during the third lockdown.
He said: “We had to miss out on trade during Christmas, St Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.”
Trevor Bond, spokesman for the Best Western Plus Dover Marina Hotel and Spa, said: “It has been a challenging time and it will be great to start getting back to normal.
“At last there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“That’s not just from a business point of view but also psychologically for the staff. They want to get back to work, see their colleagues again and have social interaction again.”
The Waterloo Crescent hotel could only provide a limited service during the lockdowns, catering for essential workers and providing takeaways.
From Monday it can serve food and drink outdoors on its terrace and reopen its gym and spa.
On May 17, the third stage of the lockdown lifting, it can serve indoors again.
Sandra Malho, owner of the La Salle Verte coffee shop in Dover’s Cannon Street, said: “It will be a relief to come back but the weather will have to be on our side while we can still only serve outdoors. You can hardly serve outdoors in the rain.
“In the last year we were only open for three months in the summer.
“We tried a take-away service during lockdown but were only selling five coffees a day.”
Read more: All the latest news from Dover