Hospitality venues across Basingstoke reopened today after a five-month lockdown and disruptions that lasted more than a year.

According to new rules, pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers indoors, although they will be limited to table service.

Besides the change in rules in the hospitality sector, people in England will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30, and indoors in groups of six, or two households.

Other recreational venues such as cinemas, museums, theatres and concert halls will be allowed to reopen, although there will be capacity limits on large events.

There has been huge optimism in the air, thanks to the rapid vaccination programme and the public’s eagerness to get back to normal life.

Although there are concerns about the rise of the Indian Covid variant, people in hospitality industry are looking forward to welcoming their old customers back.

Speaking to the Gazette, Las Iguanas Basingstoke’s landlord Johanna said: “We are very busy today, we have lots of bookings.

“We’re feeling super excited to return to normal business and normal life and also to get back to work.”

Las Iguanas, which had been closed since December, could not open earlier because of lack of outdoor space. But with rules changing now, the landlord said she is delighted to welcome the customers back.

It only has a limited number of staff back now, based on the requirements for the business.

Poppins Cafe & Restaurant has been serving customers outdoor, but they opened their indoor area to customers today, hoping it can welcome more guests in the coming days.

One of its staff told the Gazette: “Today is the first day we are opening like a proper business [after the lockdown]. It’s great to see people sitting inside our café. Hopefully in next two days, we will get more customers.”