RELIEVED landlords and barbers welcomed a massive easing of lockdown guidelines.

A reduction in social distancing has made it possible for many businesses to welcome customers inside for the first time in months from July 4 – and now there’s just under two weeks to get everything ready.

The new “one-metre plus” rule allows people to be closer together in areas where staying two metres is impossible as long as they take steps to decrease the risk of transmission, such as wearing facemasks.

Barbara Lockwood co-owns the New Calley Arms in Wanborough with son Jon Beeden, who has redecorated, tidied up, extended the pub’s beer garden and added an outside bar in preparation for reopening.

She said: “We're really relieved because the information we had before was quite flimsy and vague but now we have something to work towards.

“There’s a lot to set up. It’s keeping us busy, and it’s a positive step in the right direction.

"It’s what everyone has been missing and, though they can’t stand and talk at the bar anymore, they can still come in and chat or sit outside.

“It’s been difficult and if it had gone on any longer, we would have really struggled. It’s going to be touch-and-go for a couple of months because some people might still be too nervous to go outside, which is understandable.

“Hopefully we can make up for the lost sales and build back up again, though it’s never going to be back to normal.”

Marc Richardson of The Rat Trap in Stratton has spread out the pub’s tables, added disposable menus and hand sanitiser to each of them, introduced a one-way system and asked staff to wear face masks.

He said: “It’s a very exciting time and a new challenge. We’re a locals pub and it will be nice to see familiar faces and meet new friends who we’ve gained through the takeaway service that has been very popular.

“People will be glad to be back, they’ve all said they want to come in and say hello, though we’ll continue the takeaways for people staying in. We’re aiming to go above and beyond the government guidelines to help our customers feel as safe as possible.

“It’s been a difficult time for everyone and their social circles have shrunk so we want to make this a happy place to come and chat.”

Jamie Stapleton of The Tuppenny in Devizes Road, said: “Yesterday was the best day since lockdown began. We are really pleased to be able to open again because we miss our customers. It’s returning to business as usual as we can make it.

“We’re very aware that we have a responsibility to provide a safe, healthy and happy environment for our customers and we are determined to do that.

“During lockdown, we adapted an set up an online shop for our specialist beer which has been really well-received. People have been very supportive, with some orders as much as £150, which is crazy.

“I’m really excited to open the doors and pour a pint into a glass instead of a bottle and be hospitable again because it feels like we’ve been robbed of our duty of care.

“Hopefully we can have up to 50 per cent of our usual capacity, we’re still working out the details.”

After facing the biggest crisis in its 177-year history, Arkell’s Brewery has brewed 30,000 pints which will be sent to its many landlords and tenants next month.

Managing director George Arkell said “We are relieved that the prime minister has officially announced the re-opening of pubs.

“This long-awaited news means that, with restrictions, we can start to serve the community again. We are still awaiting the exact guidelines, but with the two-metre rule being relaxed in favour of a ‘one-metre-plus’ rule, we are really looking forward to getting back to business.”

Andy Marcer of The Beehive in Old Town was cautiously optimistic. He said: “My initial reaction is I’m vaguely positive, though it depends on the detailed guidelines they release.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming people back and I’ve got the tape measure out to see how many I’ll be able to fit in. It’s quite a cosy pub so I’ll struggle to get more than 25 per cent of the normal amount.”

Hairdressers reopening will be welcomed as, after going almost four months without a trim, people have been eager to get back in the chair.

Tom Hardy of TH Barbering in La Beaut had all his appointments on the first day booked up in less than half an hour, so he’s planning on working until 9pm to fit more customers in.

He said on Facebook: “I am buzzing and over the moon. We had all been waiting for this date for such a long time and the day has finally come.”

Tom said no walk-ins will be allowed, disposable gowns and hand sanitiser will be used, more time spent per appointment to allow for cleaning and disinfecting, and customers will be asked to bring their own face masks but can buy one if they forget.

Hotels, restaurants, salons, pubs and cinemas can reopen as long as they are Covid-secure. Theatres and concert halls can open but cannot stage live performances.

Plus, leisure centres and places of worship will be allowed to reopen and weddings can go ahead with up to 30 guests. But nightclubs, soft play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and water parks will remain closed for now.