FOR the first time in months, shops, hairdressers and barbers and outdoor hospitality venues have opened as coronavirus restrictions eased.

Monday, April 12 saw shoppers rejoice and return to their favourite shops and businesses across the conurbation.

In Christchurch, stall holders and customers alike were pleased that the market was back up and running.

Forever Fudge owners Tracy Cox and Duncan Brown, who had a stall at the market, said: "We feel brilliant - this is our first day here and we've already done our first sale at 9.05am.

Bournemouth Echo: Forever Fudge owners Tracy Cox and Duncan Brown Forever Fudge owners Tracy Cox and Duncan Brown

"We're very excited as the shops are opening and it's some form of normality because everything last year was closed and cancelled.

"We're going to stick with staying local rather than setting up at big events this year to support local communities. We will be in Christchurch every Monday."

Independent retailers in Christchurch were also pleased to welcome back customers and reopen their doors.

One of the managers of Bookends, Laura Gilbert said: "It's great being open, and it's very exciting. It has not been very nice being closed for the first few months of the year and it's really good to be open again.

"When we reopened following the first lockdown it was very busy from the get go, so I was expecting it to be busy. It's good that it's turning out to be so."

For Sylvia and Lennard Hunnable from Highcliffe, it was "really nice" to be back in Christchurch with shops open.

Sylvia said: "It's really good and it makes you feel more normal. We came here for the bank but bought some extra bits while we were here. It's so nice to see the high street up and running. We came before and it looked sad."

Bournemouth Echo: The queue for Zara in Bournemouth The queue for Zara in Bournemouth

In Bournemouth town centre, large queues were formed outside of Debenhams - which was holding a closing down sale - Primark and Zara.

Further afield in Westbourne, hairdressers, barbers and pubs were open after months of closure.

The first day of opening after the third national lockdown was described as "incredible" by Mint barbers owner CJ Bell.

Bournemouth Echo: CJ Bell (right) with a clientCJ Bell (right) with a client

He said: "We launched our booking system when Boris made the announcement, and appointments have gone through the roof. We are fully booked about four weeks in advance now.

"It's so exciting for us. We have been shut for eight months and we have only been able to open in four months of the whole pandemic. It's definitely been a challenge but everyone needs their hair cut."

Excitement was shared by the manager of The Westbourne pub, Joanne Burton.

Bournemouth Echo: Joanne Burton with Chris Shaw (left)Joanne Burton with Chris Shaw (left)

She said: "We're fully booked from 2pm today (April 12) and it's all going smoothly so far. We're also fully booked next weekend and we're quite booked up in evenings too.

"We had eight months off last year and three months this year, so it absolutely feels good to be back. Hopefully this will be the last time that happens."

Along with The Westbourne, The Libertine has also received a large number of bookings.

Manager of The Libertine, Alice Simmonds said: "It's been a big build up with getting the pub ready but we're finally open and people are pouring in. We're fully booked all day and this week is looking really good.

Bournemouth Echo: Manager Alice Simmonds with Ken SasuManager Alice Simmonds with Ken Sasu

"In our heads, this will be the final lockdown and we hope to be open for good. Reopening and closing has been really difficult but there's light at the end of the tunnel."

The Dolphin Centre in Poole also hosted lots of shoppers, with many, similarly to those in Bournemouth queuing to enter Primark.