PUB owners across Test Valley are "over the moon" to be back indoors following a busy week of serving drinkers after lockdown restrictions eased.

From May 17, the hospitality industry was finally allowed to serve punters indoors for the first time since December.

This means pub-goers across England can enjoy a drink in groups of six, or two households, without having to brace constant showers and cold conditions.

Drinkers will not be allowed to prop up the bar just yet though and must continue to order from their table, while staying seated to enable social distancing.

The landlord of The Boot Inn in Houghton, Craig Doyle, said the pub got off to a strong start last week and was fully booked from Friday, May 21, through to Sunday, May 23.

He explained: "It was a really good first week and it was good to be back inside, because it is so much easier to operate it all.

"We were fully booked from Friday through to Sunday, so it was the best week I have had and everyone was over the moon to be in the warm.

"It feels like it has rained since January and I even had the fire lit, which says it all really."

However, Mr Doyle did stress, because he is struggling to employ staff, the outside kitchen may have to stay shut for another month while he looks to strike a deal with a street food business.

He said: "I am still looking to give that outside kitchen to a street food business, but unfortunately it will probably be another month before it opens, because we cannot operate two kitchens.

"I will look to open the bar outside, but it is just a battle."

Martin Rickman, the husband of the landlady at The Sun Inn in Romsey, said some customers still chose to sit outside in a bid to protect themselves from coronavirus.

He said: "It was very busy last week and people still preferred to sit outside, because they have probably got used to being outdoors as they feel safer.

"We saw a lot of people come back who we have not seen for a while and we are looking forward to a good bank holiday weekend."

Mr Rickman believes because fewer people are jetting off on holiday this year it is helping the watering hole bounce back from lockdown.

He explained: "It's all go for the weekend and obviously a lot of people are not going anywhere at the moment and are instead staying at home, which is nice because Romsey is a lovely town."

Sarah Edom, general manager at The Four Horseshoes in Nursling, said the pub was buzzing with customers last week, stressing there is still an appetite from drinkers to support their local.

She said: "Our first week of trading indoors was very encouraging and we were comfortably busy most days.

"There’s a real appetite for customers enjoying the whole dining experience, as well as our regulars enjoying a drink with their friends again."