BUSINESSES in Bishop Auckland yesterday gave a cautious welcome to Boris Johnson's roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions.

But the Prime Minister was urged to stick to his timetable and not to 'Move the goalposts" by a hospitality sector among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

With pubs set to reopen this spring, many in the industry are welcoming the news and hope to recover their losses – and many have missed their regular visitors coming through their door.

A spokesperson from the Tap and Tun pub said: We can’t wait to get our doors open, mainly for the people that live on their own. We have missed them so much.

"I’ve worried a bit about the senior customers that have no company and who come in here each day for interaction. So, fingers crossed we can get back to normal.”

Others said they were worried the roadmap might change – and that pubs would bear the brunt of restrictions once more.

A spokesperson from the Red Alligator, in South Church, said: “I think it’s good to have some light at the end of the tunnel – though we are a considerable time off, with nothing set in stone.

"I wouldn’t pin hopes on us being allowed to reopen within that time frame. They might move the goalposts again.

“Once again, sadly, our trade was the first to close and the last to reopen, with no evidence to suggest that any accountability of Covid comes from the hospitality sector.

"We have bent over backwards to make pubs and restaurants Covid secure with track and trace, while no other sectors have been made to do so.

“Personally I feel once again we have the unsavoury end of the stick on the so called roadmap out of lockdown with undoubtedly a few U-turns thrown in there.”

Non-essential shops and businesses, along with self-catering accommodation will also be able to reopen on April 12.

Susan Blackburn from Phoenix Hair and Beauty said: “We are very happy and excited to have a date to look forward to reopen so we can bring back some happiness to our lovely clients who we have missed so much.

“Although we are cautious this date could change we are very hopeful it won’t.

“I feel very sorry for our clients, especially the ones who still have to work with fringes over there eyes and grey roots.

“Having your hair done and a pamper is such a good stress reliever. Our salon like many others have spent a lot of time and money to make sure we are fully compliant and safe.”

Sam Zair from Zair’s café and The Old Assembly Rooms Holiday Let said: “It’s what we have all been asking for as a country.

“It is important that this plan works. The Government have said that it is driven by data not dates, which is sensible. The last thing businesses need is to close again with another lockdown.

“At this time the data is looking good so hopefully we can look forward in reopening our businesses and move on.

“Within hours of Boris’s announcement, we started to receive bookings for our holiday let. The spring shoots are looking good, as they say.”

It is hoped that museums and outdoor performances can go ahead by May 17.

Kynren, a spectacular live outdoor show in the town, regularly draws large crowds to its performances telling the history of England. Although the company behind it, Eleven Arches, could not put on a show in 2020, organisers are hopeful it can return this year.

Anne-Isabelle Daulon, CEO and co-founder of Eleven Arches said: “We were thrilled to hear the government roadmap and delighted that we should be able to welcome visitors in the summer to our outdoor spectacular Kynren and exciting new visitor attraction, 11Arches Park, as currently planned.

“This last year has undoubtedly been hard for everyone and we believe the launch of 11Arches Park with its spine-tingling show ‘Fina and The Golden Cape’ and its Maze of Fame is perfectly timed to deliver that great mix of family outdoor fun, immersive experiences and thrilling live action to lift everyone’s spirits and help families and friends reconnect.

“Tickets for the theme park will launch on April 16 and socially distanced tickets are already on sale for our award-winning evening show, Kynren.

“While our operational plans for the summer currently assume social distancing will be in force, we will adapt as we hear confirmation from the government as to what measures are in place at the time of our opening.”