IT IS an “exciting” milestone for hospitality businesses and entertainment venues in Fordingbridge as the next stage of lockdown easing started.

As part of phase three of the “roadmap” out of lockdown, pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes can now reopen indoors, and indoor entertainment venues including museums and cinemas as well as hotels, B&Bs and hostels can open once again.

On Monday May 17, The Regal Cinema opened its doors for a screening of Tenet, which was a sell-out. Although capacity has had to be reduced.

Bridget Mulrooney, of The Regal Cinema, said: “We are beyond excited to be opening again.

“It has been a tough year of closures for us but we’re hoping that it’s third time lucky and that this time around we’ll be open for good.”

“It’s been exceptionally encouraging to see so many people booking their tickets”

Volunteers Sarah Hasted and Carolyn McCay said: “It’s all very exciting and lovely to see some of our regular supporters out enjoying their long-overdue movie fix.”

Fordingbridge Museum also has plans to reopen but a date is still to be announced.

Restaurants and pubs can also welcome customers back inside.

Marco Stefanini, of La Lambretta, said on Monday he was “very excited” to be welcoming back customers to dine inside and reopen with a new spring/summer menu.

He said: “I’m feeling very excited, we are prepared with all the government guidelines and ready to welcome back our customers.

“We have worked very hard during the lockdown with takeaway and free home delivery and the local community supported us very well.”

People can now meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors and six people or two households can meet indoors, including overnight stays.

Gerald Pettley, of The Ship Inn, said it was “nice to be trading again”.

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But added: “It is good to be reopening but you’ve still got in the back of your mind with the way things are going, the worry that something might crop up and you’ll have to close down again.”

The pub in High Street also has accommodation, which Gerald says is starting to pick up and is expected to be busy over the summer.

“It is nice to have all the staff back and see all the friendly faces,” he added.

“It is certainly nice to see everyone open in town now. Hopefully we will get nice weather and have a nice summer.”

The Railway Hotel in Fordingbridge, which opened last year after undergoing a restoration of the building, is re-opening to guests and diners on Friday, May 21.

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The hotel said: “The Station Master and all the team are looking forward to welcoming you aboard for your journey with us.”

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