TRADERS will return to Christchurch high street today for the first market since March.

Following discussions and meetings between BCP Council officers and operators Southern Market Traders, the established weekly stalls will be open for business once again.

Boscombe market, which is run by the same operator, is also set to return this week on Thursday, while Poole is still under consideration due to the challenges around social distancing at the site.

BCP Council said the markets in Boscombe and Christchurch can resume with a number of safety measures in place.

Initially, they will focus on the sale of food only.

Councillor Lewis Allison, cabinet member for tourism, leisure and communities, said: "The approval to reopen outdoor markets is a welcome step forward in our slow return to a new normality.

"Our outdoor markets form a vital part of our communities and many residents are keen to see them open so they can once again support local traders.

"It's vitally important that everyone takes responsibility for social distancing, to ensure the markets can continue to run safely."

The council said operations at markets will be reviewed on a weekly basis to ensure they are taking place in a safe manner.

Paul Lewis, co-owner and director of Southern Market Traders said: "We have worked hard to make sure we are able to ensure social distancing at the markets.

"We are working on bringing Poole back as well but there are challenges that need to be looked at.

"We have met with the council planners and they have been very helpful to us. It is all new to all of us but it good to have markets back.

"Hopefully, we can use these markets to get some community spirits back, with people buying English produce and supporting local traders. It is a big move forward for us."

Meanwhile, in the New Forest, Lymington's weekly charter market is set to make its comeback on Saturday, operating a trial with a limited number of traders.

A dozen food and plant stalls will be on the high street in the first week. If the first week is successful, operators will seek to safely increase the number of stalls the following week.