Publicans and locals raised their glasses across the Island as businesses celebrated the end of lockdown on Monday.
Some pubs with outside space were finally allowed to reopen, along with shops, gyms and hairdressers. However, it was a close call for The Old Village Inn, Bembridge, with landlord Jay Chapman saying: “We had a fantastic opening night and it was great to be part of the pub institution again.
“But we had a bit of a shock when the council informed us that we couldn’t use the pods we had set up in our garden at the 11th hour.
“We had to change everything around and erect a marquee. We understand that the guidelines come from central Government, but I just think the IW Council could have been a bit more flexible.
“But it was just a relief to be trading again after all we have been through in the last year.”
There have been changes at The Fighting Cocks, Arreton, as well. Landlord Sam Shaw said: “It was hectic but brilliant. We were fully booked from breakfast at 10am until 3pm. We have put up a small marquee which was really successful and we were lucky to have the support of our amazing community.”
Landlady of the Highdown, Totland, Sue White, has also been busy organising the work which has been done on her outside garden. She said: “We have built an outdoor wooden gazebo which is open but keeps everyone sheltered.
“We were so pleased to be open and to welcome back our customers. It was chilly, but they all seemed to enjoy themselves. Now we are just hoping for a busy summer to help get us back on our feet.”
In Yarmouth, the Bugle Coaching Inn opened up their three beer gardens at the back of the pub with its outside bar. Landlord John Russell said: “There were smiles all round as our regulars came through the front door and walked through the pub to the back.
“Everything is cordoned off and we have been busy decorating inside, with more wooden flooring and new carpet. However, the locals will have to wait for another month before they can see just how much we have done to improve things.
“It’s been a long winter; I’m just glad to be open and serving all our locals again and welcoming new customers.”
Liam White who, with business partner Simon Cant, owns The Castle, Newport and The Vine, Freshwater, said: “Our customers were back in force and not deterred by the cold. It was great to see so many to come and support us.
“It’s been a stressful time getting everything together to make sure everyone is socially distanced. Now you can’t have anyone standing outside and you have to track and trace everyone who comes into the garden, so there’s more work for us to co-ordinate.
“It’s absolute madness the amount of work we have had to do because of the new rules. Our garden at The Vine is fairly small, but we’ve refurbished it so we can seat more people so this has made a difference.
“We just want to move on now and get back to what we do best – serve great beer and food!”