Fylde folk flock to make most of sun-soaked 'Freedom Day'
Shoppers and diners in Lytham and St Annes - along with those desperate for a long-awaited haircut - were quick to make the most of the latest stage of lockdown restrictions being eased coinciding with a bout of spring sunshine.
Queues greeted barbers opening up for the first time in more than three months, while Lytham Square was packed on the first day of outdoor eating and drinking again being permitte and customers were eager to make the most of non-essential shops reopening.
Marc Whitehead, proprietor of Exquisite Shoes in Clifton Street, Lytham and a long-time official of Lytham Business Partnership, said: "We're just relieved to welcome back customers after all these months.
"Town has been nice and busy from the off today and it's good to be able to serve people again."
Jenny Clarke, executive director at Stringers department store in Lytham, said: "We are delighted to re-open our doors.
"We have had such tremendous support from customers and people seem really keen to shop locally and support us – we are so grateful for their loyalty and enthusiasm.
"It was great to see a queue outside the door at 9am. It’s been a fantastic first day, with a really positive vibe and happy customers.
"The team have been amazing getting the store ready for re-opening, to make sure we look fresh for spring.
"We are following all the ‘Covid Secure’ procedures to make sure customers and the team feel safe and secure, and we’re feeling really positive now that the community is starting to buzz once more.
"Lytham is a fantastic town and it’s exciting to be able to play our part once more."
Carolyn Clapham, who owns the Storytellers Inc bookshop in St Anne's with daughter Katie, was delighted to welcome back her first customers after lockdown.
"We've been doing click and collect and online orders and we've done all right but nothing beats being able to welcome people into the shop," said Carolyn.
First customer after Monday's reopening was Kathryn Howard, 37, who said: "I love books and there's nothing better than having a browse and buying them in person."
Customers desperate to have their locks shorn were happy to wait in line, as only two were allowed in at a time, with Raymond Scrivens from St Anne's saying: "I've been looking forward to this for ages. My hair has been 70s style for long enough".
Coffee shop owners were busy welcoming customers who could sit outside for the first time in months.
Stephanie Neil, co-owner of No Filter in St Anne's Square, said: "It will make a huge difference. We have been offering takeaway during lockdown but it's just not the same as customers having the chance to sit down and enjoy their drinks and for us to have a bit of a chat.
"We are limited to 20 seats because of social distancing but it's a great step forward and we're not even thinking yet about the next stage out of lockdown."
Kevin Randall, 57, of Church Road, in the town centre enjoying a brew, said: "It's just good to be able to sit down and savour this - and the sunshine is a very welcome bonus."
The No 10 Ale House in St Anne's was among bars eager to make the most of outdoor space - with a canvas shelter in place to ensure customers at its premises in Park Road, St Annes are protected from the elements.
"We are taking bookings for the first week and there has been a great response, " said manager Adam Morland.
"We're full from 2pm on the first day and the first weekend is filling up nicely.
"It''s great to see our customers again - a lot of them aren't on social media so the contact they get here is so important to them.
"They like to know they will be able to get a spot which is why we thought bookings were the best idea, at least initially. We'll see how it goes after that.
"We can accommodate 36 and we'll have four staff on, all eager to get back serving."
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