BUSINESSES say they have been “blown away” by the public’s support after they re-opened their doors for the first time in more than three months.

Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers welcomed customers back through their doors on Saturday when the lockdown restrictions were relaxed.

Strict social distancing measures were in place at all venues and police say the majority of people were well behaved.

One of the businesses opening up on what was dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ was the Chophouse restaurant in New Street, Braintree.

Owner Rob Ely said: “It was a really good day and our customers were amazing. I was blown away by the support they showed us and there was such a good vibe in the place.

“There was lots of really good feedback and I think a lot of people felt safe with all the new social distancing measures in place.

“We had around 48 bookings whereas we would normally have about 75.

“We could have had more in but we want to keep it to that number otherwise it’s going to be hard to social distance.

“It’s never going to be rammed like it was before Covid because it just isn’t going to work.

“But we need to make sure we continue making money. I’m expecting business to drop off after the initial surge so we’re going to need people coming along on weeknights and not just on weekends.”

Sylvia Davidson, manager at the Railway pub in Chipping Hill, Witham, admits she was relieved to re-open and business has been steady since Saturday.

She said: “It was great to see some friendly faces again after all this time.

“People were generally very respectful and stuck to the new guidelines. They actually seemed more patient than normal and people have been very understanding when we’ve had to ask for contact information for the tracing system.

“The feedback has been really positive so it’s been a good start so far. I would say business has been quite steady and we’re getting more bookings made each day so that’s a really encouraging sign.”

Kat Berale, who runs Cabello Hair and Beauty in Newland Street, Witham, says she was pleased to see her regular customers return and adapt so quickly to changes brought in to aid social distancing.

She said: “To be honest, I was a bit nervous how people would cope with the strict measures we had put in place, but everyone was so understanding.

“We slipped back into salon life, like we had never been away.

“One customer said she was so excited it felt like her wedding day again.

“It was amazing.

“We had so many lovely messages, presents and everyone was very relaxed in our non-scary but safe salon.”