ROMSEY and Test Valley business owners have reflected on their first few days of serving customers again now lockdown restrictions have significantly eased.

On Monday, Romsey residents were finally able to have a pint in a beer garden, visit the hairdresser's for a much-needed trim and return to the gym.

Under step two of Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown, pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants will only be allowed to serve food or drink outdoors.

The 'rule of six' is still in force, meaning customers can meet up in groups of six - or two households, whichever is greater.

Visitors will also have to order from their table and stay seated - enabling social distancing.

However, new test and trace rules mean everyone over 16-years-old must sign in before going into pubs, cafés or restaurants, unlike last year when just one member of a group needed to do this.

Businesses owners have said customers have been eager to get out again and enjoy their newfound freedoms, but admitted adapting to new restrictions has been challenging.

General manager of King John's House and Heritage Centre, Mark Udall, said staff were "chomping at the bit" to serve customers again.

He explained while Miss Moody’s Tudor Tea Room, which is part of the museum in Romsey, was quiet on Monday business quickly took off on Tuesday.

The 56-year-old said: "We are a bit tucked away off the road and we don't get a lot of passing trade, so people need to know we are here.

"Even though we advertised we were reopening, it takes people a little while to realise we are open, so we had a quiet day on Monday, but on Tuesday we did a normal trade day for April.

"I was really pleased about that and the team was too, because everyone was chomping at the bit to welcome back customers."

He added since the outdoor tea room was allowed to reopen it has been "wonderful" to let customers back into a place that "people really love".

Delighted to see customers again, general manager at Nursling's The Four Horseshoes, Sarah Edom, said: "It’s fantastic being operational and serving customers.

"As you would imagine, people have really enjoyed having a drink and something to eat at a pub again. It’s the social element people have really missed over the last three months."

She added the pub's new BBQ area at the front garden is proving to be a hit already with the public, while predicting demand will surge at the weekend.

Romsey Advertiser: Peter and Wendy Kewley celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary at The Four HorseshoesPeter and Wendy Kewley celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary at The Four Horseshoes

Ms Edom said: "Our new BBQ offering for the front garden is proving very popular too and will be in high demand over the weekend. No bookings in this part are necessary so just come on down."

However, drinkers are encouraged to book a table in the rear garden to "avoid disappointment", according to the general manager.

One of the owners of Romsey's coffee and wine bar, Cork & Bean, said Monday was a positive start to the week, with customers excited to get out of the house and socialise safely.

Simon Foster explained: "Monday was a good start and people were very keen to be out and having a chat.

"As a business, it was important to get us back into the swing of things and customers seemed pleased to be able to get on with life a bit more.

"This week is very hard to judge, because we have no pattern, but we are keeping our heads above water and hopefully next week we will have a bit more of a routine."

Mr Foster added the business may introduce a booking system where customers will have to walk up to the unit to reserve a table and will be texted ten minutes before it is ready.